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Is Windows Phone Starting To Establish Itself as the Third Platform?

New smartphone market share numbers from IDC for the first quarter of 2013 show Windows Phone at No. 3, well behind Android and iOS but boasting strong growth.

"Windows Phone claiming the third spot is a first and helps validate the direction taken by Microsoft and key partner Nokia," Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said in a statement. IDC noted that Nokia accounted for 79 percent of all Windows Phone shipments in the quarter.

"Given the relatively low volume generated, the Windows Phone camp will need to show further gains to solidify its status as an alternative to Android or iOS," Restivo said.

Android is the undisputed volume king with 162 million units shipped and 75 percent market share. Apple is next with 37 million units and 17 percent share. Those two platforms account for 92 percent of the market.

Leading the rest was Windows Phone with 7 million units shipped for 3.2 percent market share. The growth of Windows Phone compared to the first quarter of 2012 was the best in percentage terms at 133 percent. That looks promising against Apple's 6.6 percent growth, but it is daunting in the face of Android's pace. Even starting from a huge base, Android market share increased by 80 percent.

Holding onto third place will be a challenge for Windows Phone. BlackBerry may have seen a 35 percent drop in shipments to 6.3 percent share, but the original smartphone powerhouse company pumped out a million units of its new BB10 platform in its first quarter of availability.

IDC's market share findings are slightly different from those published a few days earlier by Gartner. Analysts at Gartner put Windows Phone shipments at a little less than 6 million. That 1 million device difference leads to a much different story about Windows Phone in Gartner's analysis. With those numbers, Windows Phone trails BlackBerry for third place -- by 0.1 percentage points of share -- and seems stagnant.

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 16, 2013