Analyst firm IDC has stuck its neck out with a futuregazing report that sees Windows Phone overhauling Apple's iOS in just four years.
With Ovum forecasting that Microsoft's OS will overtake BlackBerry by 2016, the analyst reports are making good reading for Redmond this month.
Both sets of forecasts agree that Google's Android will be top dog, though. IDC predicts a massive 45.4 per cent of smart phones sold in 2015 will be Android handsets, up from a 39.5 per cent market share this year. The difference is that in 2015, IDC's crystal ball reveals Windows Phone will have a 20.9 per cent share in second place, up from a mere 5.5 per cent in 2011.
Then will come iPhone with 15.3 per cent (down slightly from its current 15.7 per cent), with BlackBerry trailing in fourth place with a 13.7 per cent share in 2015 (down from 14.9 per cent). And Symbian? Well, IDC thinks just 0.2 per cent of smart phones sold in four years' time will be Symbian-powered, down from 20.9 per cent this year. Effectively, it's saying, Windows Phone will replace Symbian.
Why should you care about all this analytical number-crunching? Cynics might argue it equates to guesswork, given the difficulty of predicting what will happen in the next few years. For example, nobody back in 2007 predicted Google would own the most popular smart phone OS in 2011, or that Apple's iOS would grow as fast as it has.
But there's a good reason we write about the likes of IDC and Ovum peering into their tea leaves. Both see a strong future for Windows Phone, following Microsoft's recent deal with Nokia to make WP handsets.
"Up until the launch of Windows Phone 7 last year, Microsoft has steadily lost market share while other operating systems have brought forth new and appealing experiences," says IDC's Ramon Llamas. "The new alliance brings together Nokia's hardware capabilities and Windows Phone's differentiated platform. We expect the first devices to launch in 2012. By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be number 2 operating system worldwide behind Android."
If you're thinking of buying a Windows Phone 7 handset, but are worried about whether it has a long-term future, these predictions may provide comfort. What's more, they're important since they may spur developers to pile into Windows Phone with innovative apps, which in turn will fuel its success.
More generally, the fact that analysts think there'll be four major smart phone platforms slugging it out still in 2015 is good news for phone buyers, since they'll be competing fiercely to introduce new features and better handsets.