Can Windows tackle Apple and Google?

Recent research shows that Microsoft and key partner Nokia have good reason to celebrate, having overtaken Blackberry to become the third-largest global provider of smartphones during the first quarter of 2013.

Approximately seven million Windows Phone devices were shipped, which accounts for some 3.2% of the overall market share – a substantial increase on figures from the same period last year, in which an estimated three million devices accounted for 2% of the market share.

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Analysts have suggested that this increase in sales helps to validate the direction Microsoft and its partners have opted to take. Nokia was responsible for 70% of all Windows Phone manufacturing during the last quarter.

Two Horse Race

Despite unprecedented growth, Windows Phone is still lagging behind Android and iOS devices, which claimed first and second place respectively, with 162.1 million Android devices shipped in the first quarter, compared to 37.4 million Apple products. Android’s market share increased to 75%, compared with just over 59% last year.

Whilst the increase of Windows Phone shipments is certainly impressive, with such a huge gap in unit sales between second and third place in the market, is it feasible that Microsoft can catch up with and compete seriously with iOS and Android?

The consensus amongst experts seems to be that it’s possible, albeit a daunting task, and one which would require a shake-up in software development at Microsoft.

Apps

According to Acer president Jim Wong, the main issue with Windows Phone devices at the moment is a lack of applications – something which Microsoft is keen to resolve.

Traditionally, Microsoft software has been complex, allowing users to perform a huge number of functions from one application. Android (and arguably more-so) Apple software and apps generally focus on one simple task, with different apps accounting for different consumer requirements.

The way in which people use apps has changed since the days of Microsoft’s desktop domination, and the firm seem eager to move with the times and embrace these changes. Could it be a case of too little, too late, or is there still time for innovation?

Time will undoubtedly tell, although it seems unfair to write Microsoft off just yet – It’s worth remembering that Microsoft’s flagship gaming console, the X-Box, originally struggled to catch up with Sony’s PlayStation prior to becoming a market leader.

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