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LG handsets running Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.5 in 2009.

The year is now 2012, which means that Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system is enjoying a resurgence that started with the 2009 release of Windows Mobile 6.5 and its “fresh-looking” honeycomb start screen. Benefitting from a pivotal deal with LG, the world’s No. 3 handset maker, Windows Mobile now enjoys more than 15 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, poised to reclaim the No. 2 spot in the industry — second only to the Symbian operating system.

What? That’s not how it turned out?

Um, no. Not even close.

As we know, Google’s Android dominates the market today, based on shipments, followed by Apple’s iPhone. For all practical purposes, Windows Mobile doesn’t even exist anymore, having been replaced by Microsoft’s completely overhauled Windows Phone — which is currently hovering somewhere beneath 2 percent of the global market.

Microsoft is pinning its hopes on Nokia, which has put its weight behind Windows Phone on its smartphones, shifting away from its longtime use of Symbian.

That rosy projection for Windows Mobile was iSuppli’s view of the 2012-2013 smartphone market, as detailed in projections from the research firm back in October 2009. The forecast was described in a news release titled, “Reports of Windows Mobile’s Death are Greatly Exaggerated.”

iSuppli's 2009 Windows Mobile projections

This is relevant today because IHS iSuppli is the research firm now predicting that Microsoft’s Windows Phone will overtake Apple’s iOS for the No. 2 slot in worldwide market share by 2015, benefitting from Microsoft’s pivotal Nokia partnership and the “flashy set of features” on the new Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show next week.

“This hot product represents Nokia’s first step to reclaim its market share,” says Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS, in the latest news release. “Combined with Nokia’s efforts to drive the development of the Windows Phone ecosystem, the Lumia 900 and its successors will help Microsoft to reclaim its No. 2 ranking in smartphone operating system market share in 2015.”

Sure, it could happen. Who knows? But that’s exactly the point. No one does.

This is not to pick on iSuppli, or to cast unwarranted doubts on Windows Phone. Research firms Gartner and IDC have issued similar forecasts of their own for Windows Phone. Certainly Microsoft got lots of positive buzz at CES about Windows Phone and the new devices from Nokia and HTC. CNet named the Lumia 900 the best smartphone at the show.

But one of the most interesting parts of the mobile industry right now is that it’s extraordinarily dynamic. Who knew back in 2009 that Android would be the dominant player? For all we know, the smartphone market in 2015 could be ruled by someone we’re barely even considering at this point.

For our take on the 2015 smartphone market, check back in 2015. In the meantime, take all of these confidently worded predictions with a huge grain of salt.

Thanks to GeekWire reader Steven Noyes for pointing out the 2009 iSuppli report in the comments on our earlier post.

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