It sounds like a plot line straight out of Hollywood: washed-up cell maker teams with down-on-its-luck software giant to overtake a Silicon Valley tech behemoth. But researchers believe 2015 will be the comeback year for Nokia with Microsoft Windows Phone replacing Apple’s iOS as the No. 2 smartphone operating system.
According to IHS iSuppli, the hero of this story is the Lumia 900, a smartphone recently unveiled at CES that breaks all tradition for the Finnish-based Nokia — and the company’s best chance to reclaim its No. 1 spot from Google’s Android. As well, the Lumia could be the first non-Android handset to strike fear into Apple.
Although Apple’s iOS currently has 18 percent of the smartphone software market and Windows Phone has just under 2 percent, Microsoft’s OS could have 16.7 percent by 2015, just ahead of the 16.6 percent IHS expects the iPhone maker will control in three years.
The key to this transformation, the researchers say, is how Nokia plans to market the Lumia, cutting into Android, iOS and BlackBerry strongholds. One sign of this movement is the marketshare of smartphone operating systems other than Android and iOS drops from its current nearly 33 percent to 8.6 percent in 2015 – with Windows Phone being the major benefactor. Indeed, while iOS drops nearly 2 points and Android gains around 10 points, Windows Phone picks us more than 15 percent of the smartphone market over the next three years.
Apparently, Nokia’s switch from Symbian to Windows Phone not only helped the once cell phone titan, but also Microsoft. “The Lumina 900 and its successors will help Microsoft to reclaim its No. 2 ranking in smartphone operating system market share in 2015,” IHS announced.
Such a move starts in North America, instead of Europe, where Nokia traditionally launches its phones. The “device was developed with North American market dynamics and smartphone users in mind,” the firm announced. North America has been Nokia’s “Achilles’ heel,” a stronghold for Apple.
Along with a 4.3-inch organic LED screen and 12-megapixel camera, the Lumia 900 will also support LTE, something Apple is expected to introduce with its next iPhone. Verizon recently announced it won’t sell any handsets that do not support the faster 4G wireless technology.
As well as a flashy design and the latest technology, Nokia is adopting a carrier-based distribution method in North America. This can be seen from its agreements with AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S., along with Rogers and Telus elsewhere. In the past, Nokia has avoided this channel, limiting its reach, according to IHS.
Nokia is also targeting the already weakened Research In Motion. The BlackBerry maker, hobbled by the iPhone’s entry into the corporate suit, will now face Nokia powered by Microsoft’s well-established history selling to business customers.
All of which portends for an exciting year when the tables could be turned on a smartphone market once thought dominated by Apple and Android. Perhaps we need to add a third smartphone player — Windows Phone — to that list.