There’s still hope for Microsoft’s Windows phones

Windows for all.
Windows for all.
Image: AP Photo/Eric Risberg
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Android and iOS may dominate the global smartphone market, but there’s still room for other players.

In Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and India, about a third of mobile phones are running an operating system that is not iOS or Android, according to a report from Opera Mediaworks analyzing mobile phone use in the Asia-Pacific region.

That’s a stark contrast to the US, where Android and iOS collectively held 96% of the smartphone market in June, according to comScore. As Quartz’ Dan Frommer writes, it’s clear that “a third smartphone platform—Microsoft’s Windows, for example—has almost zero chance of succeeding.”

But there is substantial opportunity for Microsoft in countries where people can’t afford $600 smartphones. It’s estimated that 500 million to 900 million people will get online in the next three years, and most of them will do so on cheap phones. Microsoft clearly knows this, having released a low-end smartphone in March that costs $70.

It’s simply too early to write Microsoft off. In mobile-first markets, where underpowered $30 smartphones are plentiful, Windows phones could provide a Goldilocks solution.