Matt Miller over at our sibling site, NokiaExperts, takes issue with a prediction that Nokia will drop to 20% while Apple and the iPhone soar to 35% worldwide market share by 2012:

The iPhone has a singular form factor and has been doing incredible the first couple of years in existence. However, as more Android devices roll out, Windows Mobile 7 shows up in force, RIM keeps chipping away with the BlackBerry OS, and Palm struggles to find itself with WebOS I doubt Apple will pass up Nokia.

Matt also points out that Symbian Foundation could replace the ailing S60 by then as well, making the situation even more of an unknown.

Granted, in North America we sometimes forgot the goliath that is Nokia internationally. They're huge. I've argued before, however, that raw market share isn't exactly the same thing for Apple. They already have massive mind share, clearly setting the pace for smartphone development for the last couple years (multitouch, better user interfaces, centralized application stores, etc.), but they maintain a very high profit share as well.

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Back in January, it was reported that while Apple ships nowhere near the amount of handsets that Nokia does, it makes double the profit. So, every percentage of market share Apple does gain comes not with loss leaders and commensurate financial losses, but with huge, brimming bags of money to shovel back into iPhone R&D and marketing.

Apple has also figured out how to take iPhone innovations and leverage them for Mac OS X (like the upcoming QuickTime X), and vice versa -- something no other company seems able to do yet.

All that to say I agree with Matt's overall assessment, it's ridiculous and risky to try to look 3 years out in a market like smartphones. After all, no one really predicted the iPhone in 2006, and many pundits thought it would fizzle and fail in 2007. Now look at it.

Who knows what the market will be in 2012? Microsoft could have shipped Windows Mobile 7.x -- RIM could have a new OS as well. Heck, Nokia could snap up Palm and be selling PreN99's like hotcakes...

What's your prediction?

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