New Mobile Operating Systems: Can They Make Us Switch Devices?

by Istvan Fekete on February 25, 2013

There are two big players in the smartphone OS market, Android and iOS, which retain a greater than 90% share in the global market, while the rest on of the players are limited to sharing the remaining 9%. The biggest share goes to the Google-controlled Android OS, with — according to IDC’s data — 70%, while iOS retains 21.1% of the market. Together, they are maintaining a grip on the global mobile market.

When you look at these numbers, you kind of have the impression that Google and Apple have divided the mobile market, and that the rest of the players are simply struggling to survive, with Symbian slowly fading away, leaving room for new entrants and for existing players as well. But who are the new players?

First, there is the rumoured Tizen. Samsung, the top Android smartphone manufacturer, announced in early January that it will lighten its reliance on Google’s mobile operating system and that it plans to release new, competitive Tizen devices in 2013. As a second move, the South Korean manufacturer will kill its Bada operating system and merge it with Tizen, according to the latest industry sources. Tizen is an open-source project formed from the ashes of Nokia and MeeGo, but we haven’t yet seen any devices running Tizen.

Secondly, there is Mozilla’s Firefox mobile OS, which is an open HTML5-based operating system. According to a recent Mozilla announcement, the software developer has partnered with manufacturers such as ZTE, Alcatel, LG, Huawei, and all handsets running Firefox OS will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Also, they have announced partnership with eighteen carriers around the globe. None of them is so far Canadian, although additional markets will be announced soon.

The third (and maybe the most promising) is the Ubuntu mobile operating system. The charm of this new mobile OS is that you can recycle your ‘older’ smartphone or tablet by installing on it, and benefit from a fresh start. Its benefits can act as drawbacks as well, however, because users will need to erase the device to install the new OS. But as shown in the demo, Ubuntu OS runs smoothly on a Google Nexus device, and installing isn’t as complicated as it seems at first glance.

The fact is, I love competition, because it is good for consumers, but there is one tiny little thing the new entrants need to consider: The launch of the new BlackBerry 10 OS and the accompanying devices wasn’t enough to save the struggling smartphone manufacturer, at least according to first reports. The essence BlackBerry seems to miss at this point is the lack of stunning apps that make people switch devices. And this is exactly what the new entrants have to consider for a successful launch.

Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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