There have been a few predictions going on by both IDC and Gartner that Windows Phone will reach 2nd place in smartphone market share by 2015, just behind Android, but above iPhone and anything else that’s still around by then. You’ll see what IDC predicts here and Gartner’s predictions here. A lot of people laughed at this prediction since Windows Phone 7 is such a new platform that lacks some of the features smartphone users expect these days.

Then I remembered similar predictions about Android from about 3 years ago. At that time, Gartner predicted that Android would be in the number 2 spot for global market share by 2012 and look at where they are now!

Back then, I had the T-Mobile G1 which was an extremely limited, buggy, and ugly device that did not sell well relative to the hotter devices of today. It genuinely felt like a beta product that was released too early (even though Google had been working on the OS since 2005 and before that had been in development since 2003). Even today, most of my Android phones show frequent force close errors on even the built-in applications like mail, messaging, or the marketplace. (How often does your Android force close?) The latest dual-core 1Ghz Tegra 2 processor doesn’t seem to help with the laggings on certain devices (like the LG Optimus 2X) either. You can pretty much forget about getting updated versions of the Android operating system from the manufacturers in a timely manner as well. Heck, manufacturers are still releasing new Android phones with old versions of the operating system.

Paul Thurrot thinks Gartner and IDC’s predictions for Windows Phone are ridiculous on account of how Microsoft “is mishandling the platform.” Yet, Windows Phone 7 actually feels like a finished product as it is and it only took about 18 months to put together. Sure, the Copy/Paste update was/is a few weeks late, and there was a Marketplace crashing bug in the first release, but overall most people agree that it is a pretty smooth-running and pleasant platform. Windows Phone 7 has a 93% satisfaction rate after all. Developers seem to love it too. The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace reached an app count of 10,000 apps faster than any other mobile platform.

Which sounds more like mishandling a mobile platform: letting manufacturers release whatever they want even though it might be pretty buggy and difficult to use and never receive an update… or delaying a scheduled update a few weeks in order to make sure it works correctly? What about allowing malware to be downloaded to Android phones and compromise user data? Or designing a phone antenna that prevents calls from being made when the phone is held in your hand? It seems to be that Microsoft mishandled the old Windows Mobile of 2000-2010 a lot more than they’re mishandling Windows Phone 7… and coincidentally in many of the same ways Google is mishandling Android.

The point is that Google has by-far exceeded Gartner’s predictions from 2009 despite having problems that one would think should be much worse than the problems Microsoft has had so far. Of course, the marketplace may be much more forgiving towards Google than it is to Microsoft, and perhaps that’s why IDC and Gartner still think Android will be number 1 in 2015 while Microsoft’s Windows Phone climbs to 2nd place. Or maybe there’s some other key to success that has nothing to do with bugs and features.

What do you think? If Microsoft plays their cards right, could they surpass Gartner’s predictions even sooner, just like Google did?

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