Even though Windows Phone’s consumer base is smaller than those for Apple’s and Google’s mobile platforms, it’s projected to be the fastest-growing mobile OS in the coming years. IDC today issued its latest forecast that predicts Microsoft’s Windows Phone, which currently holds 3 percent of the market, will account for 3.9 percent of the market by year’s end and 7 percent by 2018. Much of that growth could come from enterprise IT decision makers, according to IBM.
An official at Big Blue this week said he sees growing pockets of interest in Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8. Most of that interest is coming from IT, not consumers, but it was enough for IBM to give its newly acquired MaaS360 mobile device management platform support for Windows Phone.
IBM added mobile device management to its portfolio of tools for systems administrators two months ago with its acquisition of Philadelphia-based Fiberlink. The company announced the addition at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and at the IBM Pulse conference in Las Vegas.
The company’s MaaS360 Productivity Suite provides secure e-mail, calendaring, contacts and a browser. The tool lets IT separate personal apps and data from enterprise software and information. IT can remotely wipe and manage enterprise apps and data without touching the personal side of the smartphone.
Jim Szafranski, senior VP of customer platform services at IBM’s FIberlink unit, said many of its enterprise customers would like to see their employees use Windows Phone for work-related activities because of its tight integration with Microsoft’s back-end systems. Consumer demand for Windows Phones of course continues to trail that of iPhones and Android devices, he said.
“Actual end user momentum is trailing business interest,” Szafranski said. “IT likes Microsoft and likes Windows. They’ve made a lot of investment in things like Active Directory and Exchange and as a result they have a lot of interest in seeing Windows Phone used by employees. I don’t think anyone is going to be all Windows on mobile, but enterprises do want it and I think they have a strong opportunity when it comes to the enterprise side of purchase decisions.”
Despite the incremental but steady growth predicted for Windows Phone, it appears much of it will come at the expense of BlackBerry, though a small amount will come from Android and iOS. IDC’s latest forecast predicts Apple’s iOS and Android will continue to account collectively for 90 percent of the market over the next four years. This is slightly down from its current share of 94 percent.