Microsoft pushes past BlackBerry in US smartphone platform market

Strategy Analytics says launch of BlackBerry 10 last month could reverse Microsoft gains

Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows Phone has passed BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) to become the third most popular smartphone platform in the United States, behind Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS, according to the latest stats from Strategy Analytics.

The stats were compiled for the fourth quarter of 2012, well before BlackBerry launched its BlackBerry 10 operating system and handsets. BlackBerry is struggling to regain its position in the mobile enterprise market, which is being determined nowadays by its position in the consumer market, as a result of the BYOD trend.

Analysts see Microsoft as BlackBerry's main rival to become the third mobile platform in the enterprise behind iOS and Android. The launch of Windows Phone 8, well in advance of the BlackBerry 10, has put BlackBerry in a tough position, as the fourth quarter figures suggest.

In a recent report, Strategy Analytics predicted that BlackBerry 10 would achieve modest short-term success and provide a strong foundation for long-term growth. The new all-touchscreen Z10 handset is expected to appeal to core Blackberry loyalists while also attracting the attention of former BlackBerry users.

"Blackberry 10 is now the newest mobile platform on the market and gives Blackberry the opportunity to attract users who are feeling the fatigue set-in from five year old platforms like iOS and Android," said Kevin Burden, research director at Strategy Analytics.

Josh Martin, also a research director at Strategy Analytics, credits BlackBerry for "wooing" app developers to the BlackBerry 10. BlackBerry estimated that it would have 70,000 apps available for the BlackBerry 10 when it launched on Jan. 30.  

To address app security concerns, BlackBerry announced this week that it is incorporating Trend Micro's mobile application reputation service with its internal system for analyzing the security of BlackBerry World apps. The Trend Micro appliance will scan third-party apps submitted to BlackBerry World for malware.

While Microsoft might have gained on BlackBerry in the fourth quarter, it will be interesting to see the stats for the first quarter of 2013, as the BlackBerry 10 launch begins to have its effect in the marketplace and the enterprise.

For more:
- see Strategy Analytics mobile platform stats and the BlackBerry 10 release

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