The smartphone market is shaping up like a three-horse race in 2008. BlackBerry remains the leader, Windows Mobile continues to make slow and steady progress, and Apple has come out of nowhere with the hottest and most widely hyped product of the year to become a legitimate contender with the iPhone.

A study by the IT analyst firm Canalys revealed that the iPhone surpassed Windows Mobile in market share in Q3 (see graph below).

That’s a meteoric entrance to the market since iPhone launched on June 30. The Canalys data also came on the heals of a Web marketshare report from Net Applications that showed the iPhone has the highest Web browser marketshare of any smartphone platform.

Many bloggers — especially the Apple devotees — have used this information to call out Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who earlier this year said, “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.

While Ballmer was clearly wrong about the iPhone’s impact on the overall smartphone market, it’s unclear whether the iPhone is making significant inroads into the corporate world. If the iPhone is going to continue its momentum and fully compete with Windows Mobile and BlackBerry in 2008, it’s going to need to add push e-mail and 3G connectivity.

The emergence of the iPhone has also further marginalized two smartphone platforms: Palm OS and Symbian. As a result, both platforms could be facing a make-it-or-break-it year in 2008.