My guess is that Microsoft is eyeing Symbian overseas. Android is also a big player in Asia. In Asia, you really need multi-lingual support, and Windows Phone 7 excels at it (I’ve played with it, inside Microsoft’s Shanghai offices - experience is seamless when configured as Chinese or English or German - the 3 languages I tried).
Symbian also gets the multi-language support right. Android still has a way to go. iOS is pretty poor, in this regard.
I think Gartner is pretty much spot-on. Symbian has a MASSIVE lead right now (40%+ of the market), and that will take a few years to overcome. Android’s been accepted and used by every phone maker save Apple and Nokia (both of whom are losing marketshare to Android).
RIM is dropping, and as Android picks up more and more integration with enterprise solutions, it’ll lose even more (I use my Android tablet and my WinMo phone and my calendar and contacts on both are automatically synchronized between my Outlook app and the Exchange servers and iCal servers of my clients - it just works).
My guess, for 2014:
Win Phone 7: 12%
Symbian and Win Phone 7 will be predominantly on the strength of Asian sales (ultra-slick support for Mandarin, Thai, Hindi, etc - not bad markets when you consider half the world’s population lives in China, India, or the countries between them). Android takes the lead, and iOS becomes a player really only in the US (much like most Apple products - a player in the US only).
IMHO, the area where Symbian excells is in the basic (dumb) cell phone. You know, where a camera and very basic browsing is about all you get. I think the number of these phones will drop, as LTE combines both voice and data into a seamless data-stream. There will cease to be a 'penalty' for a data-plan and the apps will continue to tempt those new customers to opt for the neat stuff (weather, theater show times, gas prices, where did I park my car?).
I think LTE is going to be a big game-changer. I can't speak to the foreign language support as I only speak English (and even that skill is not as good as it should be). But, you point is well taken.
There is a lot of inertia to overcome with RIM. There are a lot of corporate systems that have been built around RIM for secure emails, messages and phone calls. This is going to take a while to dismantle, and RIM is certainly going to try to grow this segment.
I do think Android will continue to grow - but the problem with Android is the Open Source and loose management of the OS. Apple is 'safe' in that because it's a 'closed garden' viri and malware is screened. Android has already had some malware and ID theft issues. Unless Google tightens the reigns, this insecurity could be their demise. No one wants their credit card numbers stolen by their phone.
Personally, I really do like Android. I think Google really has a winning product - they just need to put some controls on it - which is pretty much anti-Open Source.
But, you bring up some very good points with the open language support in emerging markets. How many smartphones will be sold in China and India. IMHO, these cultures are more interested in functionality than status. Apple's main thrust is that their phone is an elegant, functional and status symbol. You can get similar performance off a cheaper alternative phone - and IMHO that's where India and China will focus.
It's going to be intersting; It appears we are within range on Android and RIM; but have exchanged Symbian and iOS.
Question here. If Android is so good at multi-language, why can’t I switch seamlessly between English and German on mine? Specifically, I’d like to be able to easily switch between QWERTY and QWERTZ. It would really help if the auto-correct dictionary switched with the keyboard, because it’s supremely annoying when typing German.
Or at least make it fast to type umlauts and such.
Currently running Android 2.1, the newest thing released so far for the phone I bought only earlier this year.