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Will Apple Fall to Windows Phone 7 in Four Years?

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Well, I mean, I guess anything's possible? Right?

Wishful thinkers over at Gartner crunched some numbers and broke down how it sees the 2015 smartphone landscape. It sees a bright future for Android -- currently holding a 33% market share. By 2012, Gartner predicts Google's mobile OS will be knocking a 50% share -- roughly one out of every two smartphones worldwide -- and will maintain that share into 2015. Research in Motion will dip steadily over the next four years to just over 11%, and Symbian will crumble until it's, well, a crumb at 0.1%.

But here's where it gets interesting -- and controversial.

Gartner sees Apple's iPhone iOS peaking in 2011 with a 19.4% market share, wavering to 18.9% in 2012, and sinking to 17.2% by 2015. OK, given Android's growth, that doesn't seem too farfetched. But the firm also predicts Windows Phone 7 skyrocketing to 10.8% in 2011 and hitting new heights in 2015 at a 19.5% share.

That's right: Gartner believes Windows Phone 7 will defeat the iPhone in four years.

According to Asymco's Horace Dediu, Gartner makes a few dubious claims to arrive at this dynamic shift in smartphone popularity:

  1. "Apple will be interested in maintaining margins rather than pursuing market share by changing its pricing strategy"
  2. "RIM's migration from BlackBerry OS to QNX which is expected in 2012"
  3. "Nokia will push Windows Phone well into the mid-tier of its portfolio by the end of 2012"

Taking these points into account, Dediu replies, "These assumptions may be valid, but from where I'm sitting, the first assumption contradicts Apple's COO, the second would be an engineering marvel, and the third would be an organizational miracle."

Asymco maps out Gartner's forecast here:

I'd have to agree with Dediu. In order for these numbers to come into fruition, the future would have to be an "interpolation of the present."

Also, bear in mind -- as All Things D's John Paczkowski does -- this all flies in the face of what Gartner said six months ago.

In light of that, it would appear that consistency only exists in between the years 2012 and 2015.

(See also: Android Can't Be Stopped and Sales of iPhone 4 Trail HTC Thunderbolt in Verizon Stores)

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POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.