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Thursday, June 06, 2013

Forecasting Windows market share

Forecasting Windows market share:
Last week Frank X. Shaw, VP of corporate communications at Microsoft stated:
 … most of the people around me were using their iPads exactly as they would a laptop – physical keyboard attached, typing away, connected to a network of some kind, creating a document or tweet or blog or article. In that context, it’s hard to distinguish between a tablet and a notebook or laptop. The form factors are different, but let’s be clear, each is a PC.
Actually this “admission” that iPads are PCs is not something new. Steve Ballmer made the same assertion in 2010 pre-iPad (though calling them slates). Arguably, the notion that tablets are PCs has been dogma at Microsoft for over a decade and Windows running on all form factors has been a strategic guiding principle.
Which is why I’ve always added the tablet data to the PC data to create a picture of the “personal computing” market. And this is what that picture looks like today:
Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 6-3-5.31.21 PM
Note how the share of various platforms has evolved over this brief time span:
Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 6-3-5.32.43 PM
Seen this way, Windows has now reached 60% market share and it’s likely to dip below 50% during this year. What happens beyond then is harder to imagine. If Windows tablets start growing as fast as the tablet market overall then Windows could stabilize in share. But if Android and iOS tablets follow their phone brethren in growth then it will be far harder for Microsoft to maintain share. But is that cause for concern?
Not necessarily.
The total computing market[1] is likely to expand to over 4 billion users with 1.5 devices per user in the next five years. That expansion implies that 20% share equals more than one billion devices, making such an ecosystem “good enough” for the average developer. It certainly has been good enough for Windows developers to date and they have kept hiring it throughout the new mobile app revolution.
So even if Windows dips to only 20% of the world’s computing market it will still be perfectly “viable” for some time to come.

  1. I define the computing market as the total number of devices which have (a) a CPU (b) a broadband connection (c) a native application execution environment which is open to third party apps. This definition implies the presence of an “ecosystem” which is bound specifically to a platform.

Measuring US Mobile Platform Shares: Kantar vs. comScore

Measuring US Mobile Platform Shares: Kantar vs. comScore:
The latest comScore US smartphone install base data is in and there are few surprises. iPhone has reached a new record high penetration (39.2%) and user base (54.3 million). Android has reached a new high in user base (72 million) but share at 52% is below the peak reached in November 2012.
Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 6-5-3.48.35 PM
This pattern of gradual iPhone share gain in the US has been consistent for over two years even while Android has catapulted into an overall lead. The surprising thing is how Android seems to have peaked in share. There are still 95 million non-smartphone users and there seems to be headroom for growth even though the other platforms have been tapped out. But it does not seem that Android phones have any particular advantage over iPhone. My hypothesis remains that as price is taken out as a differentiation, the adoption of iOS is slightly higher than Android.
Another measure of market performance is the implied net platform user gains which is shown below:
Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 6-5-3.23.55 PM
It shows that iOS added more users in the last few months than Android.
The problem is that Kantar Worldpanel measures shipments and their share data shows a seemingly different picture.
Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 6-5-3.22.23 PM
In their data Android is shown as selling more units during January through April while Apple sold more during October through December. Of course we don’t have the absolute number of units so can’t see the effect of higher holiday overall sales volume. Nevertheless, the balance of growth seems to be disproportionately in favor of Android relative to the data from comScore.
To look at the situation more closely I measured the differential in user adds for comScore and the differential in market share for Kantar’s data. Then I overlaid the two differentials so that months are matching, as shown below:
Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 6-5-3.51.57 PM
There is a similarity to the frequency of oscillation with comScore data showing a delay (as would be expected since their data is sampling over a three month period). However, we are still facing a vertical offset where there is apparently more growth bias for iPhone in the comScore data.
Possible factors which might be explanatory:
  • Methodologies used. comScore data excludes ages below 13 and non-personal devices (business expensed phones.) 
  • Replacement sales are invisible in comScore data since the user base does not change when phones are replaced (and old ones are discarded.)
  • Missing data from Kantar. Given their survey methods it’s possible that their panels miss some market segments.