In a battle that has really just been joined for the third best-selling smartphone platform, Windows Phone from Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) has wrestled away third place from the precursor to BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY), Research in Motion Ltd. The latest data from Strategy Analytics notes that this is the first time Microsoft has ranked ahead of BlackBerry since 2006.
Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) have locked up the top two positions. Last month Strategy Analytics said that Google’s Android platform took 70% of global smartphone shipments in 2012, while Apple’s iOS grabbed 22%. Android’s share of the total market is more than 50%, while Apple’s share is around 35%.
The new data was gathered before the release of BlackBerry 10 in late January, after Microsoft’s platform had been on the market for about two months. So the comparison may be something of an apples-to-oranges deal, and we’ll have to wait to see what happens this quarter and next.
BlackBerry is not rolling out its touch-screen Z10 phone in the U.S. until mid-March and its keypad Q10 phone will follow that by 8 or 10 weeks the company has said. That gives Microsoft essentially two more quarters to build its U.S. market share and to dig BlackBerry a deeper hole to escape from.
It seems pretty certain that we won’t know which platform will be in third place until the end of the third quarter, or even the fourth quarter of this year. Handicapping the horse race now, though, has Microsoft in the lead as BlackBerry struggles to regain its footing after stumbling out of the gate.