Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer is daring to dream when it comes to beleaguered Windows Phone sales.

“We’re still relatively small … I expect the volumes on Windows Phone to really ramp quickly,” Ballmer told the meeting at a Windows 8 launch event in Israel this morning, according to Reuters.

Of course, it’d be a surprise if Ballmer offered anything less optimistic for Windows Phone. Microsoft just launched Windows Phone 8 last week in San Francisco, and hot new models like the Lumia 920 and HTC Windows Phone 8X will soon be available to tempt buyers. The company is likely planning a large marketing surge which, together with the launch of Windows 8, could finally spur on sales for Windows Phone.

Ballmer also noted something he’s said before: together with the strong work from its hardware manufacturers, Windows Phone has an “opportunity to create really a strong third participant” in the smartphone world. That may not sound too ambitious, but it’s a fairly realistic goal considering the massive head start the iPhone and Android have.

It would be tough for Microsoft to realistically surpass the sheer volume of Android sales, or the hype surrounding the iPhone, to reach the number one or two spot. But there’s nothing wrong with being number three: That would make Microsoft the successor to RIM’s BlackBerry, and it would allow Windows Phone to finally become a sustainable business.

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat