updated 06:15 pm EDT, Wed March 28, 2012
IDC sees Windows losing relevance in 4 years
A shift towards the mobile world could see Android overtake Windows for sheer market share, IDC put out in a long-term estimate. Putting mobile and desktop platforms in a single smart device category, it had Windows slipping from 35.9 percent as of 2011 to 25.1 percent in 2016. Android would only slightly move in share, from 29.4 percent to 31.1 percent, but would move enough to claim the top computing platform.
iOS would grow faster than Android over the same period, but it would start from a smaller point and move from 14.6 percent last year to 17.3 percent in 2016.
The total number of smart devices would move from 1.1 billion predicted for this year to just over 1.8 billion four years later.
Most of the growth would come from the developing world. For many in Asia-Pacific, the smartphone would be the primary if not only Internet-aware device they used. Android was growing because prices were coming down on smartphones, IDC said. Apple would mostly take comfort in still having a far stronger app economy, researchers said, as iPad and iPhone users were willing to pay for apps where most Android users skewed towards free titles.
Such long-term predictions often have a large amount of leeway and could vary sharply. They do, however, reflect a trend towards mobile overtaking the traditional PC. In the US, tablets outsold PCs last fall owed mostly to the iPad. They point to Microsoft's insistence that Windows will dictate the future possibly being hollow as it becomes a minority platform.