Energized by the recent deal between Microsoft and Nokia, Windows Phone will grab the No. 2 spot ahead of Apple's iOS in the global smartphone market by 2015, according to IDC's latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.
Releasing some slight revisions from a report issued in March, IDC expects Windows Phone to capture 20.3 percent of all smartphone users in just four years, up from a 3.8 percent share this year.
The research firm believes that by switching to Windows Phone as the core OS on its devices, Nokia will provide the kick that Microsoft needs, especially in global regions where Nokia has enjoyed robust demand. Microsoft's mobile OS will continue to hang onto a small chunk of the market until 2012 when IDC expects Windows Phone-equipped Nokia devices to start shipping in large numbers.
Google's Android will keep its top spot in 2015, grabbing almost 44 percent of the global market, while Apple's iOS will hug third place with a 16.9 percent share. Both numbers are slightly lower than IDC's earlier forecasts in March. Though IOS's market share is expected to inch down from its current 18.2 percent, Apple will still see a dramatic increase in smartphone shipment growth through the end of 2015.
In second place this year, Symbian will quickly lose market share as Nokia phases it out in favor of Windows Phone. By 2015, IDC sees Symbian's market share as virtually nil.
With lower prices, better features, and less costly data plans, the global smartphone market should grow more than four times that of the overall mobile phone market this year, according to IDC.
The research firm sees the smartphone market jumping 55 percent this year as more consumers swap out their feature phones for more advanced devices. This year's smartphones shipments are expected to hit 472 million, up from 305 million last year, and then double to 982 million by the end of 2015.
"Mobile phone users around the world are turning in their 'talk-and-text' devices for smartphones as these devices allow users to perform daily tasks like shopping and banking from anywhere," IDC analyst Kevin Restivo said in a statement. "The growth trend is particularly pronounced in emerging markets where adoption is still in its early days. As a result, the growth in regions such as Asia/Pacific and Latin America, will be dramatic over the coming years."