Windows Phone Overtakes BlackBerry in Smartphone Shipments

In the race for third mobile platform, there’s a new favorite: Windows Phone.

According to new research from IDC, Microsoft’s mobile operating system accounted for 3.2 percent of global smartphone shipments in the first quarter. That’s a significant gain from the OS’s performance in the first quarter of 2012, which saw it capture a market share of 2 percent. And it was enough for Windows Phone to unseat BlackBerry from its third-place spot and claim the rank for its own.

Admittedly, ousting BlackBerry wasn’t exactly a difficult task. In the first quarter, the struggling handset maker saw its share of global smartphone shipments halved year over year. In Q1 of 2012, it claimed a 6.4 percent share. This year, BlackBerry managed to snag only 2.9 percent.

An unfortunate loss of momentum for BlackBerry, though one that’s not entirely attributable to the ascension of other platforms and a lack of interest in its own. BlackBerry is in the midst of a transition to an entirely new OS, BlackBerry 10. Right now, the company has just two smartphones that use it. The bulk of its handset portfolio continues to run on its older OS. And according to IDC analyst Kevin Restivo, that’s almost certainly having an effect on sales.

“Windows Phone is clearly gaining momentum,” Restivo told AllThingsD. “But BlackBerry’s decline this quarter really has more to do with the lag between sales of its old handsets and its new ones than anything else. Sure, Windows Phone is ahead now, but there’s no guarantee that it will maintain its third-place ranking in upcoming quarters.”

And, as I’ve noted before, third place in the current smartphone OS rankings doesn’t mean much. According to IDC, Google and Apple captured 92.3 percent of all smartphone shipments with their Android/iOS duopoly (Android: 59.1 percent; iOS: 23 percent). In other words, Windows Phone and BlackBerry are so far behind the two leading mobile platforms that their ranking is really just a moot point, anyway.

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