Lumia  Microsoft

The decline of Windows as a mobile platform has been much discussed. From Windows 10 Mobile failing to make an impact to Microsoft pulling out of the hardware market, Windows Phone has been through tough times. They are about to get tougher, however, IDC predicts that within five years, Windows Phone will have a market share of zero.

The market-watching firm today released its 5-year prediction for the smartphone market. The news is not good for Windows Phone.

Microsoft’s platform has been in a steep decline for a couple of years. It market share has dropped as smartphone sales have dried up. The company’s decision to end the Lumia brand last year created a vacuum. Microsoft, and Nokia before it, were the runaway best-selling manufacturer on the back of Lumia.

With no more Microsoft hardware, a huge void was created in Windows Phone. OEMs have simply lost confidence in the platform. Why would they build hardware for Windows 10 Mobile when Microsoft does not want to do it?

It’s a conundrum the company has attempted to address with reassurances that Windows 10 Mobile will be fully supported. Manufacturers are not buying it.

Salvaging Windows Phone?

While Lumia was the top-selling Windows-based brand, it is worth noting that the platform was failing even with Microsoft’s hardware. Perhaps the decline would have been slower, but it was happening anyway.

IDC reports that it is going to get a lot worse in the coming years:

“Windows Phone continues to decline as a share of the smartphone space as many OEMs have given up producing phones for the platform. As a result, IDC expects 2017 volumes to decline 69.5% to just 1.8 million units. It is unclear at this time if Microsoft has a clear plan to persuade OEMs to get back on board with the platform, or if it plans to release a device itself like it did with Surface devices. Until this production question is addressed, IDC doesn’t see a clear path to turning around the platform.”

Microsoft certainly still has plans for Windows Phone. Indeed, the company is likely to return to the hardware front with the oft-rumored Surface Phone. Redmond is likely to steer a mobile course directly for business and enterprise and treat the consumer as an afterthought.

At this point, it is the only course of action that makes sense. However, considering Android and iOS already have a commanding lead in enterprise, it is hard to see how Microsoft can break the hold. We could argue that Windows 10 Mobile could offer much more to a business, but Microsoft’s rivals have the market position.