In the continuing decline of BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s handset business, the Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone is projected to supplant it as third most popular mobile OS in the UK (behind Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android) by the end of this year according to market research firm eMarketer. BlackBerry has already fallen out of the top three on a global basis, but it has been able to hold on in the UK market for longer, possibly because regulated businesses in the financial sector, which plays a major role in the UK economy, are still more likely to opt for BlackBerry’s secure platform.

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BlackBerry is treading water: eMarketer

“The demise of BlackBerry has long been documented but these numbers highlight just how far it has fallen from grace,” said eMarketer analyst Bill Fisher, reports Sophie Curtis for The Telegraph. “While Microsoft is making significant effort to grow its presence – buying Nokia’s mobile phone unit and recently partnering with HTC to offer a Windows-based version of the flagship HTC One M8 – BlackBerry appears to have been treading water.”

This falls in line with what other market research companies such as Kantar have found, though the forecast of when the two platforms will swap places may be a little sooner than had been expected. The problem is that BlackBerry Ltd’s (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) proposition, the most secure platform with a dearth of app developer interest, is well known and not very popular with most consumers. Improvements that don’t break the mold are likely to keep ceding ground to BlackBerry’s competitors.

BlackBerry saw sequential increase in units shipped

Even as its market share continues to slip, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) had a sequential increase in units shipped last quarter, from 1.3 million to 1.5 million, as the smartphone market keeps growing. Unfortunately, that’s still a 78% drop from last year when analysts were speculating that the company would be put up for sale and nowhere near the numbers it was putting up a few years ago.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen has said that he intends to make the company profitable by fiscal year 2016, but it’s a good thing that he is focusing on software and enterprise services to make it happen. The handset business may not be dead, but it will take a real breakout product to get it to rebound.