Mobile Phone Operating Systems – The Next Battlefield
Just as in the PC wars, so the operating system landscape appears to be shaping up in a similar way. In the PC days, we started with DOS. A basic, rudimentary, close to the iron software that worked well enough for simple tasks. In the mobile phone world, Symbian fits this role. Then came Apple’s OS with a better GUI and the landscape changed. The iPhone comes with a nice user interface from Apple. While Windows had a response with its Windows Mobile, it’s Google who provides the compelling response with its Android. In the PC days, Apple was closed and Microsoft countered with an open OS called Windows. In the mobile phone days, it’s Google’s Android that provides the openness developers require. Google will be the primary competitor to Apple, not Microsoft.
The operating system is core to the growth of the Smartphone – the segment of the mobile phone market that will grow from $39 billion in 2007 to $95 billion in 2013. While current efforts focus on the hardware – flip phone vs. multitouch screens vs. QWERTY keyboards, and more, the focus will soon shift to software, services, and content.
RIM is also a current player but they remind me of Lotus 1-2-3 for the early PC. Lotus defined the term “killer app” which is an application that drove both hardware platform sales as well as the application itself. RIM is the Lotus 1-2-3 of the mobile phone world in which users buy the phone so they can access their email, but that’s about it. The screen, layout, OS, and more won’t support them in the long haul.