By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
August 18, 2009

In a report to clients Tuesday, RBC Capital’s Mike Abramsky takes a long (92 page) look at the “huge, nascent and underpenetrated” smartphone market and concludes that the emergence of devices like the BlackBerry and iPhone represents the next wave of computing — “as profound as the historic technology shift from mainframes to PCs.”

Among his predictions:

  • Smartphone penetration is likely to grow three fold over the next three years, to 504 million users in 2012 from an estimated 165 million in 2009. That’s a 35% increase from his previous estimate of 395 million smartphones by 2012.
  • Unlike the PC revolution, which was dominated by horizontally integrated platforms like Microsoft’s (MSFT) DOS and Windows, the spoils of this one are likely to go to vertically integrated smartphone makers through the “special sauce” they employ to create unique, iconic user experiences.
  • The most successful challengers — he singles out Research in Motion (RIMM), Apple (AAPL) and with less certainty, Palm (PALM) — could double or triple their revenues by 2012.

Almost as an afterthought, Abramsky raises his price targets: RIM to $150 from $100; Apple to $250 from $190; Palm to $25 from $18.

But the real value of the report may be in the rich collection of charts showing the scale of the potential market, the rate at which Abramsky expects it to grow and who he expects the winners and losers to be.

A sampling below the fold:

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