OS WARS : MOBILE OS PLATFORMS
OS WAR MOBILE
Using Android OS, Mobile users can freely access the full version of Linux's Open Office package
Issue Date - 01/04/2011
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On October 18, 2010, Apple's boss Steve Jobs, appeared before the media to announce Apple's fourth quarter results, over a conference call. And unlike previous occasions, this time, Jobs spent more time talking about mobile OS platforms and the growing competition in this segment (instead of preaching the usual gospel of profits and toplines, new launches and markets). This time, it was different. “We’ve now passed RIM. And I don’t see them catching up in the foreseeable future. They must move beyond their area of strength and comfort, into the unfamiliar territory of trying to become a software platform company,” announced Jobs. There was also a contrasting tone in which he addressed the rise of Android OS compared to BlackBerry OS . He went on to defend Apple's business strategy by stating that Google loves to characterise Android as 'open' and iOS and iPhone as 'closed'. Jobs is a man of few words. And he measures every word he speaks. But the truth is – the story of mobile OS has changed in the past decade. Radically so. Once it was only Symbian, today it is everybody else!
Why do BlackBerry handsets' menu icons look slicker than Nokia’s? And what is it that makes iPhone’s touchscreen User Interface feather-touch? It's all about the OS that lies under the crust. Till about three years back (Q3, 2008), Symbian was the undisputed leader in smartphones (with a market share of just under 50%). Today, it is fast losing respect; it's an OS talked about for bugs and everything not-so-exciting.
The phenomenal increase in smartphone usage and the increased power required to pump power into every new device that promises to be a playground of the latest in applications, has brought mobile OS into the limelight. Rightly so. A recent report released in April 2011 by Gartner outlines the bright prospects of the mobile OS wars. According to the report, a record 468 million smartphones would be sold in 2011 – an increase of 57.7% y-o-y. Question is: which OS will consumers choose? Following are the biggest strengths of some leading mobile OS platforms.
Open Source – the Android advantage: Android barely existed untill 2009. Being Open Source, today, Original Equipment Manufacturers can’t imagine a world without the green mascot logo. Acer, Samsung, Motorola, TCL, Micromax, Dell, HTC, Huawei, Lenovo, Kyocera, Sony Ericsson and more than three dozen other handset makers (which are a part of the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of 80 hardware, software and telecom companies), have already launched Android OS based phones or are planning so, over the next few quarters. In fact, by Q2, 2011 alone, nine more Android handsets are set to hit market shelves. It has been estimated that by Q4, 2011, Android OS will overtake Symbian as the largest-selling OS in the world (38.5% as compared to Symbian’s 19.2%). Android, which is powered by the Linux kernel, is an open, upgradeable system – and this is a huge plus for the buyers. For instance, using Android, mobile users can freely access the full version of documents to go – which is the Linux OS that offers package of Open Office (which can be used for editing and saving, and which has sub-programs like Words to Go, Sheet to Go, Slide show to go, or PDF to go). Four programs that will make any user feel independent of a PC. What's best? Those willing to upgrade their mobile OS to the latest released Android version (to say, the latest Android 3.0, the Honeycomb) can do so, free of charge. Speaking about Android's increased penetration into lower-priced smartphones, Roberta Cozza, Principal Analyst, Gartner, says, “Android's position at the high-end of the market will remain strong, but its greatest volume opportunity will be in the mid to low-cost smartphones.”
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