The race for third place in the smartphone platform race — behind Android and iOS — had been tightening considerably as BlackBerry slipped and Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform managed some gains.
By the end of the first quarter, Microsoft Windows had reached 2.9% market share, just below BlackBerry’s 3.0%, according to Gartner.
BlackBerry may have now managed to widen its lead over Windows Phone, though.
An analyst survey from Bloomberg indicates that BlackBerry may have shipped around 7.7 million smartphone units in its most recent quarter, which ends in May.
That represents growth of 24% from the previous quarter, when BlackBerry handsets plummeted to a new low of 6.2 million units, less than half of its peak shipments of 14.2 million at the end of 2010.
If BlackBerry matches those analyst expectations, it would strengthen its lead over Microsoft in terms of platform share of shipments.
To what can we attribute the bounce in BlackBerry’s step? The company’s latest handset, the Q10, and its physical QWERTY keyboard, may be luring back previous BlackBerry users who may have recently switched platforms because of the company’s inability to put out a quality touchscreen handset.
The Q10 may be a boost for BlackBerry in the short-term, but it’s not clear BlackBerry can sustain that growth once customer upgrades fizzle out.
We estimate Microsoft and BlackBerry will again be neck-and-neck by year-end. In other words, BlackBerry won’t pull away from Microsoft in a dramatic fashion. And neither company will fare well against the expected onslaught of new iOS and Android-powered smartphones that typically arrive around the year-end holiday season.
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