Windows Phone is all but dead after sales sink below 1% of market

Gartner figures point to the imminent demise of Microsoft's smartphone platform

Microsoft's Windows Phone platform is struggling to stay alive, new figures published by analyst firm Gartner suggest.

While worldwide smartphone sales grew three per cent during the first quarter of the year, Windows Phone's share of the market fell below one per cent, down from 2.5 per cent a year ago.

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Gartner estimated that only 2.4 million Windows Phone devices were sold in the first quarter, around 0.7 per cent of the total market.

Things are worse for one-time smartphone pioneer Blackberry, which claimed just 0.2 per cent of sales.

The horrendous figures come a week after Microsoft announced its plans to sell off its feature phone business to a subsidiary of Foxconn, HMD, for $350 million.

Microsoft's late arrival to the smartphone market appears to have condemned it to failure, as rivals Apple and Google's own platforms dominate the scene.

Overall, worldwide smartphone sales topped 349 million units in the first quarter of the year, driven mainly by low-end smart devices in emerging markets and cheaper 4G phones.

"In a slowing smartphone market where large vendors are experiencing growth saturation, emerging brands are disrupting existing brands' long-standing business models," said Gartner research director Anshul Gupta.

"With such changing smartphone market dynamics, Chinese brands are emerging as the new top global brands."

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Gupta said that two Chinese brands ranked within the top five worldwide smartphone vendors in the first quarter of 2015, and represented 11 per cent of the market.

"In the first quarter of 2016, there were three Chinese brands Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi and they achieved 17 per cent of the market," he said, adding that Nokia's re-emergence will not prove an easy ride for the firm.

"Nokia's announced return to the smartphone and tablet markets will not be an easy mission. In today's market it takes much more than a well-known brand to sell devices. Making good hardware won't be an issue for Nokia, but users need a compelling reason to remain loyal to the same brand," he said.

"Furthermore, that the smartphone market is slowing down makes it difficult for mobile phone vendors to reach previous levels of growth."

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