Smartphone shake-up: Windows Mobile falls behind iPhone and BlackBerry

Apple has chalked up wins on the local and global smartphone stage according to reports from tech analyst firms IDC and Gartner.

Barely a year after the iPhone’s debut on the Australia market IDC says the touchscreen smartphone had captured 21% of the ‘converged device market’ by the end of June 2009 buoyed by the launch of the iPhone 3GS and price cuts to the entry-level 8GB iPhone 3G.

The overall smartphone market soared by 29% in the first half of this year. More impressive is that IDC’s category of ‘data-centric converged devices’ – those with a QWERTY keyboard or touchscreen – rocketed ahead by a whopping 235% compared to June 30th 2008.

This extraordinary surge seems to have been driven almost entirely by the iPhone given that the device first went on sale in Australia on July 11th 2008.

Apple is also enjoying similar success on a worldwide level. Gartner says the iPhone’s share of the smartphone market was measured at 17.1% at the end of September. This is up from 12.9% at the same time last year. RIM has also strengthened is position jumping from 16% to 20.8%.

But where there are winners you have to have losers. Microsoft’s Windows Mobile OS has plummeted to a humbling 7.9% down from the far-from-spectacular 11% it held in Q3 2008.

Losing a third of your share is bad enough but to rub salt into the wound Google’s Android OS went from a standing start of 0% in Q3 2008 to a 3.9% share by the end of September this year.

That’s just under half of what Microsoft now holds despite Redmond’s mobile OS having almost a decade’s head start – and that’s counting from the era of Pocket PC 2000 not the launch of Windows CE four years prior.

Symbian still wears the yellow jersey with a commanding lead of 44.6% although Nokia’s OS recorded a 10% fall over the previous 12 months. None the less this leaves a significant gap to where Apple and RIM are jostling for second place.

But should Symbian slip another 10% in the coming year and should Apple and RIM repeat their latest gains the iPhone and BlackBerry would each find themselves having closed that gap to have more than half of Symbian’s market share.