Windows Phone number 2 in SA? Hang on, Microsoft

A recent statement from Microsoft that did the rounds on various blogs and news sites which claimed that Windows Phone is the second most popular mobile operating system in 14 markets, including South Africa, has set tongues wagging.

Assuming that Microsoft meant “Windows Phone is the #2 smartphone operating system in 14 markets” as it was written, this part of its statement is simply wrong.

While it is conceivable that Microsoft meant “Windows Phone was the #2 best-selling mobile OS in South Africa during Q3 according to the IDC,” it is not certain whether that was their intended meaning even when considering the full context of the statement.

The complete statement is reproduced below:

We’ve seen record sales of Windows Phone this holiday worldwide, nearly doubling phone sales during Christmas week (YOY). In the third quarter this year, according to IDC, Windows Phone reinforced its position as a top three smartphone operating system and was the fastest-growing platform among the leading operating systems with 156% year-over-year gain. Windows Phone is the #2 smartphone operating system in 14 markets, and shipped more units than iPhone in 24 markets in Q3. Our portfolio continues to expand: from award-winning flagship devices like the Nokia Lumia 928/1020/1520, to affordable new innovations like the Lumia 520/625/1320 and Huawei W1/W2.

Microsoft SA was asked whether the statement was being accurately interpreted, but did not respond to requests for comment.

Smartphone rankings at Vodacom, Cell C

Tim Bishop portrait
Tim Bishop, Deloitte Digital

In South Africa, reports from the mobile industry have shown that BlackBerry and Nokia’s Symbian S60 remain the most widely used mobile operating systems, followed by Android; iOS (which powers Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) is a distant fourth, followed by Windows Phone.

Feedback from Vodacom and Cell C regarding the most popular mobile operating systems on their networks corroborate the general ranking above.

“Android is by far the best selling operating system on the Cell C network,” Cell C’s executive head of communications, Karin Fourie told MyBroadband. Android is followed by BlackBerry and Symbian to make up the top 3 mobile OS on Cell C.

“Windows OS and Apple devices remain popular and follow the top three selling devices closely,” Fourie said. “This may differ from an industry perspective for various reasons.”

Vodacom was queried about its latest smartphone numbers, and a spokesperson said that the newest mobile operating system data they can disclose is for September 2013.

While Cell C’s feedback focused on sales, Vodacom provided details on the number of devices running a certain mobile operating system on its network.

Symbian is not shown in the table below, but it still indicates that Windows Phone would have to be immensely popular with users on other networks for it to be “the #2 smartphone operating system” in SA.

Smartphone statistics
Mobile device May 2013 July 2013 September 2013 Growth over last 2 months
BlackBerry 3,100,000 3,100,000 3,100,000 0
Android 1,000,000 1,200,000 1,450,000 +250,000
iOS/iPhone 600,000 600,000 650,000 +50,000
Windows 150,000 220,000 270,000 +50,000

Strong sales for Windows Phone in South Africa

Windows Phone might be a long way from being the number two mobile operating system in South Africa, but according to Deloitte Digital director Tim Bishop, Microsoft’s platform is enjoying the fastest growth among smartphone platforms locally.

Bishop said that for awhile the Nokia Lumia 520 was the biggest selling smartphone in the country due to its great features and affordable price, and may have made Windows Phone the second most popular mobile OS by sales for a few months.

Windows Phone sales currently outstrip iPhone sales 2:1, Bishop said. “Predictions show that [Windows Phone] should overtake iPhone penetration by April [2014].”

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Windows Phone number 2 in SA? Hang on, Microsoft