Forecast: Global mobile operating systems and broadband, 2012–2017

1Executive Summary

PLEASE NOTE: Although the full text of the report is available online, the PDF of this report had to be broken up into two sections. Please see Forecast: Global mobile operating systems, 2012-2017 for part two.

Unless it does something dramatic with its product pricing, Apple will not have much influence on the next billion smartphone users. Despite its much-documented fragmentation issues, Google’s Android is the operating system (OS) to beat as smartphones move into the 4G era.

Key findings from this mobile operating systems forecast include:

  • With its global dominance, Android will see its share of shipments increase in 2013 to 72 percent. It will lose a little share after that but not to Apple. We forecast Android will have a 64-percent share of global shipments in 2017, at which point Apple’s share will have declined to 11 percent from 20 percent in 2012.
  • Despite some loss of shares by the two leaders, we’re forecasting a very conservative shakeout. Linux-based operating systems will contend with Samsung’s Tizen and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile for market share in different regions, but none will emerge with double-digit shares worldwide in the five-year horizon.
  • The U.S. is the leader in 4G adoption, with 17-percent penetration in 2012 growing to 68 percent in 2017. Western Europe is a laggard in LTE, and spectrum fragmentation that limits roaming capabilities will continue to hamper growth. Still, 4G penetration will cross the 40-percent mark by 2016.
  • China Mobile’s commitment to homegrown 3G and 4G technology has limited broadband growth, but China’s 2012 4G penetration will only reach 18 percent by 2017. Japan, which has the highest current 3G-penetration rate (86 percent), is not migrating to 4G as fast as the U.S. or South Korea due to lower operator subsidies. However, beginning in 2014-2015, Japan will cross over to 4G rapidly.

This report is built off the core global mobile subscribers and handsets forecast model.

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Peter Crocker

Founder and Principal Smith's Point Analytics LLC

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