Will 2014 Be The Year Of Windows Phone? It Better Be!

Double or nothing. Or something close to it. Microsoft started 2013 with the aim of rapidly increasing sales and shipment of Windows Phone devices, and thanks to partner efforts, pulled it off in some style.

Not really setting the house on fire, but posting some solid growth in a season.

And while the company may not have revealed official figures for the year, the fine folks over at IDC are claiming that the number of smartphones with the mobile version of Windows installed went up by figures of some 90 odd percent. Worldwide, that is.

This means from the lows of just 17.5 million in 2012 to the stable highs of 33.4 million units in 2013.

The Year That Was

The actual worldwide market share still came in pretty low for the year, at just 3.3 percent. An improvement from the 2.4 percent in 2012, sure, but still a long way to go to catch up with the 793.6 million units and 78.6 percent that Android managed last year.

Then again, what’s in a percentage right?

Corresponding figures for the more approachable competitors came in at 15.2 percent for iOS devices and a mere 1.9 percent for BlackBerry. The two companies shipped 153.4 million and 19.2 million units respectively in 2013.

IDC, like many market research firms, fully expects business on the Windows Phone front to pick up in 2014. Microsoft’s takeover of Nokia’s devices and services unit should propel the volumes higher this year, once the deal closes.

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Howdy, Partners!

But the thing is, that unless you are Apple, you just have to have a vibrant lineup of partners for success in the hardware arena. And even if you are Apple it does not mean you can go in all alone and think all is dandy — the IDC numbers reveal the full story.

Even though the shipments of iOS powered devices increased by 12.9 percent in 2013, their market share dipped rather starkly from 18.7 million to 15.2 percent. Ground lost to both Android and Windows Phone, no doubt.

Luckily things seems to be heating up on the hardware partner front for Microsoft, even though nothing has been officially confirmed. This tweet from NextLeaks claims that Nokia, HTC and Samsung plan to launch new handsets powered by Windows Phone 8.1 later this year.

Throw in some (new and old) second-tier partners in developing markets, and you have a thing going. And speaking of things going, there are whispers aplenty that Sony is about to enter the Windows game with a Windows Phone handset and a Windows tablet.

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The Fact of the Matter

Ultimately, the fact still remains that even with an operating system that is almost two years old, lacks robust enterprise capabilities, and competing in a very saturated market, Microsoft is competing and has, in fact, registered substantial growth year-on-year.

Now, Redmond has a history of persisting with its products and seeing them through. But it needs to speed things up by a couple of gears if it really needs to prove to the bigger partners (and the user base) just how much they stand behind their products.

And the sooner Microsoft provides this reassurance, the better for all involved parties.

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The growth is coming, however slow it may be, but it is continued growth. And that makes it easier for Microsoft aggressively push forward. With Windows Phone 8.1 the numbers will go even higher. But the platform has to cross the 10 percent threshold for others to stop and take notice — really take notice.

Windows Phone, as it stands, is stopped from within not stopped from without.

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