According to market researcher Gartner, Microsoft's mobile operating system , Windows Mobile lost nearly a third (28 percent) of its smart phone market share between last year's third quarter and this year's third quarter.
The report shows Microsoft's mobile OS had 11 percent of the global smart phone market in the third quarter of 2008 but only 7.9 percent a year later. Rivals iPhone and Symbian's market share, however, gained from 12.9 percent to 17.1 percent and from 16 percent to 20.8 percent respectively.
Symbian's share also suffered a 10 percent drop, from 49.7 percent to 44.6 percent over the same period. Android OS from Google, however, had no market share last year but Gartner reported it had 3.9 percent share this year.
Gartner analyst Roberta Cozza suggested that, given the strong emergence of free, open-source operating systems, Microsoft might find it difficult to demand licence fees from smart phone manufacturers for the mobile operating software. She also added that the recently introduced Windows Mobile 6.5 was not "a major improvement" from its predecessors.
"From one side, the market is going open source," Cozza said. "We expect that, by 2012, around 62 percent of the whole smart phone market will be open source with Symbian, Android and other Linux flavours. On the other side, they have more closed environments like Apple and RIM. Microsoft is caught in the middle. They have to think hard what they can do."
"All their licensees - HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson - are developing on Android," Cozza said, adding that previous licensees Palm and Motorola have both abandoned Windows Mobile.