Mobile OS Wars

13 Oct

Mobile OS market domination war is as hot as it gets. We have Windows Mobile(R.I.P.), RIM Blackberry OS, iOS, Symbian, Android, webOS, and Windows Phone 7 officially coming out. The older brother of Windows Phone is not technically extinct yet, but its going to be. So we can count that out of our equation. Let’s talk about the rest.

Once upon a time it was all Windows Mobile and Blackberry OS and Symbian. Along came iOS, changed the smart phone market and blah, blah, blah. Thanks Steve J. for that, but since then we also have had Android and Web OS.

Now we have an OS that keeps the user are in a tight leash, walled garden or whatever you wanna call it. The users are happy, the phones are selling good, there is a solid app-media Eco-system. But also, the OS in my point of view fails to represent a real smart phone OS. It is sold by only apple, in both S/W and H/W. This strategy has paid for apple so far, but recent studies are showing that they are heading to what happened to their Mac platform. Recently apple has started to loosen their grips a little, but they really need to adapt themselves to market changes as new competitors arrive, or end up with Mac like market share.

Then we have the OS from big G! Android is as different as possible from iOS. It’s every aspect is the opposite of iOS. It’s available to OEM, customizable, free etc. etc. Multitasking, copy-paste……… it has all the iOS do not. So far the market is shaping up nicely for them. But Android is not without its flaw. Its customization has led to big time clustering. FOUR different versions of the OS is co-existing in the market. Which has given birth to app incompatibility. Even sometimes apps are incompatible in case of different manufacturer though same version of the OS. True that Google has promised many positive changes for many of the issues, they need to act in time.

I am going to say the same thing for Symbian and Blackberry OS. Both of them are capable and popular platform. But, both of them are truly outdated. They both need a complete a re-write, break from the past or whatever. People are going for phones with them for either ignorance or for not having any other choice. But none of them is a viable modern day OS.

Regardless of  what I use, my personal favorite is webOS. Its a very capable, good looking and modern OS. Being owned by Palm has plagued its early days. Not enough development resource and crappy hardware has crippled the OS so far. I hope its acquisition by HP will solve these problems. If HP values what it has, the OS has a lot of potential. The OS does not share any problems that are endangering the futures of iOS and Android. Its needs the love of its owners.

Last but not least is the newcomer, Windows Phone 7. Microsoft has done what it had to do, completely re-write the OS. In doing so it has taken some questionable steps, such as no multitasking, no copy-paste comes to mind first. But also true is, its an absolutely gorgeous OS. Microsoft seems to be trying to take a middle ground between Apple and Google. The fact that it is Microsoft we are talking about should be chilling for the competition. Big names like them has a habit of winning in the end. Microsoft certainly has the coding prowess to accomplish things that apple can only imagine. I think MSFT will eventually add important features like multitasking and copy-paste without sacrificing anything. The future does not look too dark for them if not too bright.

As time goes, if the OSs stay in their current policy, I believe Android will become the market leader. Despite the problems, the level of freedom and power the platform provides is just too much to give up on. iOS will keep going down, to what level I haven’t got a clue. But their closeness has started to get to people, and it will keep on getting. The kind of buyers who bought iPhones for the cool factors will have new cool(er) phones to go for. Only (maybe a little more) die-hard apple fan boys will stay with it. Phone 7 will take the second position eventually. Though it is near-1st-position-2nd or near-3rd-position-2nd will be determined by the other player, webOS. webOS is the OS which makes making any prediction many times more risky. But one thing I can and shall say is, all of these OSs have a fair amount of chance to seize a respectable amount of market share, IF their developers show a little guts. Playing to their strength and playing their weakness is what they need to do to thrive and survive. In the meantime we the consumers are going to be real winners in this war. ‘Cause competition always means better product faster.

Update:

Its feels good so see things are going I thought they would. Symbian is at last(long last) done with by Nokia. They have decided to adopt Windows Phone. With Microsoft’s OS and Nokia’s H/W, the future looks bright to me. And to Gartner.com also.

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