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Microsoft’s Windows Phone sales are so small right now that the company doesn’t feel compelled to report them as part of its quarterly financial results. But a new report from IHS iSuppli predicts that Microsoft will take the No. 2 slot in smartphone market share in 2015, edging out longtime rival Apple and its iPhone.

Nokia Lumia 900 at CES

It’s not the first time an analyst has made this type of prediction. Both Gartner and IDC have made similar projections in the past.

But the optimism from iSuppli is notable because it’s based on recent developments — particularly Microsoft’s partnership with Nokia.

“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,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS iSuppli, in a news release issued by the firm.

[Follow-up: iSuppli’s 2009 Windows Mobile prediction shows just how wrong predictions can be. (Thanks to Steven Noyes for pointing this out in the comments below.]

One way that Microsoft and Nokia can gain market share is through a discount strategy. As reported earlier this week, Costco and Walmart are selling the Lumia 710 Windows Phone for 1 cent and nothing, respectively, with qualifying two-year contracts.

But iSuppli is particularly enamored with the higher-end Nokia Lumia 900, which was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show last week. The research firm cites the Lumia 900’s “flashy feature set” along with Nokia’s North American marketing strategy.

“The introduction of the Lumia 900 shows that Nokia believes the road back to smartphone dominance runs through North America,” said Francis Sideco, senior principal analyst for consumer and communications at IHS. “And the way to win North America is through its operator channels.”

Previously on GeekWire: Nokia Lumia 900, two early hands-on observations

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