Preston Gralla

Windows Phone share sinks in U.S. and China. Can anything save this OS?

June 30, 2014 9:14 AM EDT

The latest figures show that Windows Phone share is sinking in the U.S. and China and stalling in Europe. Can anything save Microsoft's struggling smartphone operating system?

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech's latest figures contain no good news for Windows Phone. In May in the U.S., its market share stood at 3.8%, down from 4.7% a year previous. In April of this year, it was also at 4.7%. It's on a steady downward trend -- market share was at 5.3% in both February and March.

Things are even worse in China where its market share was a barely measurable 0.6% in May, compared to 3% a year ago. That's a loss of 2.4% market share in a year. This means that in the two largest smartphone markets in the world, Windows Phone share is shrinking considerably.

In Europe, which has been the operating systems' biggest stronghold, things are slightly better. In the five biggest European Union countries, its market share was 8.1%, up from 7.1% a year ago. That sounds good until you consider that as recently as November 2013, Windows Phone market share in those countries was 10%. So that means that Windows Phone market share is overall retreating in Europe as well as in the U.S. and China.

Microsoft can't say that the operating system is going through early growing pains, because it was announced more than four years ago, in February 2010. And, of course, its market share is shrinking, not growing.

It may be time for Microsoft to accept that Windows Phone will always be an also-ran. Four years is a long time in operating system time, and it may be that Windows Phone already hit its peak and is now declining. In the developing world, Nokia is making a big Android push, and is putting Microsoft services on the devices such as Outlook.com rather than Google services such as Gmail. At some point, Microsoft may be forced to do the same thing in mature markets as well.