Credit Suisse -- 2012 will be a breakout year for Windows Phone 7

By Preston Gralla

There's more evidence that 2012 may prove to be the year that Windows Phone finally breaks out: A Credit Suisse analyst today said that the platform will become the third major smartphone platform, with high growth this year. 

Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha made that prediction, according to Forbes, and as a result raised his rating on Nokia from Underperform to Outperform. The prediction is based partially on a survey of 27 executives at global carriers, which  found them "widely supportive" of Windows Phone 7 and Nokia in general.  He writes:

"We found that 85% of carrier respondents believe that there is a need for a third ecosystem, with 77% noting that it will be Windows Phone/Nokia. Our survey also showed that both subsidy and volume share is expected to be markedly higher for Windows Phone over the next 12 months."

Beyond that survey, Garcha says that lower-priced Nokia Windows Phone 7 devices, support by carriers, and the quality of the Windows Phone platform will drive growth:

"We believe that Nokia can command a 13% market share within smartphones driven by Windows Phone platform based on three key factors First, we see sensible and aggressive pricing from the outset with initial Lumia devices priced between €180 to €300 to carriers. Second, we see decent support for Windows ecosystem as confirmed by our recent survey of carriers. Third, we believe that the quality of Windows platform is quite good, which, combined with Nokia's brand, distribution, scale and [intellectual property] should enable it to capture smartphone share making it the third ecosystem behind Android and Apple."

This isn't the only piece of evidence that Windows Phone 7 may finally gain serious market share this year. Microsoft and its partners are expected to spend hundreds of millions of dollars marketing and advertising Windows Phone 7, including incentives for salespeople of up to $15 for every Windows Phone 7 device they sell.

For more than a year Microsoft has been saying that Windows Phone 7 sales have been poised to take off, and so far it has yet to happen. But I think 2012 will finally be the platform's breakout year. The OS itself is finally fully featured and mature enough that it stacks up well against iOS and Android. Microsoft is finally getting serious about marketing it, and recognizes it needs to do a far better job educating salespeople and giving them incentives.

And this is the year Nokia puts its manufacturing might behind the platform. So expect 2012 to be a big year for Windows Phone 7. If it's not, I'm not sure the platform will ever succeed.

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