Can Microsoft Really Top BlackBerry?

Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone finally overtook BlackBerry in the last quarter, and though the shift could prove temporary, it’s not a good sign for the latter, which has been trying desperately to grow its market share and reclaim at least some of its previous fame.

Strategy Analytics reported that the sale of Microsoft Windows Phone devices had finally beat the BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) OS in the fourth quarter of 2012. Microsoft came out with Windows Phone 8 during that quarter and had a strong lineup of devices with Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and HTC, and those likely helped it steal it’s position as the third-most popular smartphone OS in the United States.

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Excitement for Microsoft may be premature, as the circumstances in which Windows Phone overtook BlackBerry are weighted heavily in Microsoft’s favor. While several products were launching on Windows platform, BlackBerry was stagnant, with the launch of BlackBerry 10 last month keeping many fans waiting.

Now, with BlackBerry 10 launched, any existing fans of the brand are likely to snatch up Z10 and Q10 smartphone devices, which will become available in the U.S. in the next few months. Once the devices reach the U.S., they could flip things right back around with Microsoft…

However, Microsoft does have the immediate advantage of market presence. Consumers are already getting more and more familiar with the Windows Phone devices, and can spread opinions via word of mouth, which could further boost Windows Phone sales. Meanwhile, very few people can say much about the new BlackBerry devices. Microsoft also has time to expand on the Windows Phone popularity, and will maintain a greater variety of devices than the two BlackBerry will initially be offering.

If Microsoft can keep expanding the popularity of its Windows Phone devices, it may be able to keep the rank it stole from BlackBerry, and that could help the company stay afloat as recent issues have plagued its entry into the tablet market and troubled the launch of Windows 8. Microsoft has a fair bit on the line and could really benefit from strength in the mobile market.

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