Take this one with a grain of salt, but according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com), the Microsoft Windows Phone operating system will capture 12% share of smartphone sales in Western Europe during 2012. Nokia, Samsung and HTC will be among Microsoft’s major hardware partners.

“Western Europe smartphone sales will reach 117 million units in 2012, growing 12% from 105 million in 2011,” says Tom Kang, Director at Strategy Analytics. “We forecast Microsoft Windows Phone to be the fastest growing major platform next year, doubling its share of the Western European smartphone market from 6 percent in 2011 to 12 percent in 2012. Increased distribution and marketing support from major hardware partners such as Nokia, Samsung and HTC will help to drive growth for Microsoft.”

Neil Mawston, Director at Strategy Analytics, adds, “Due to growing support from leading hardware vendors, particularly Nokia, Microsoft is in a good position to become Western Europe’s third major smartphone platform behind Android and Apple iOS next year. However, we caution that Microsoft’s long-term success is not yet fully guaranteed. There remain several ongoing challenges for Microsoft, including its limited support for high-growth dual-core superphones, the relatively modest size of its Marketplace apps store, and a consumer brand perception of Windows Phone that may have been tainted by the past weaknesses of the Windows Mobile operating system.”

My prediction: the Windows phone operating system will capture 8% tops of the smartphone sales in Western Europe during 2012.

— Dennis Sellers