|Brand building communications for the technology, media & telecoms sectors|
The mobile arena is awash with competition. We’ve already got Android, iOS and Windows Mobile. The launch of BlackBerry 10 has given the aging smartphone manufacturer a new degree of credibility, and there are still lots of Symbian devices out there. But with a number of new contenders stepping up to the plate this year, 2013 looks set to host the battle of the mobile OS.
Firefox OS and Ubuntu are two new mobile operating systems gaining a lot of interest. There’s also Tizen - another Linux-based platform that’s growing in the Asian market - and Sailfish, built out of the failed Nokia/Intel OS MeeGo. Like Android, these are all open source, meaning they can be customised and changed by operators to deliver a unique offering for users on their network.
Each of these platforms, however, face significant barriers to success. According to Strategy Analytics, Android and iOS made for 92% of smartphone shipments in Q4 2012. Without the financial clout of existing players, or established relationships with hardware manufacturers and network operators, the likelihood of these new platforms becoming anything more than small-time players is slim. We’ve already got access to well-designed, regularly updated mobile operating systems, complete with well-established ecosystems that are relatively bug free. In the crowded mobile environment, these new operating systems will have their work cut out to gain a foothold.
BlackBerry’s struggle to claw back market share best demonstrates this challenge. BlackBerry used to enjoy a dominant position in the mobile space, but now Android and iOS have the smartphone market tied up between them. It’s not just BlackBerry, though. Other popular mobile platforms have all but disappeared in the past. Remember Palm OS that powered the Palm Pre and later became WebOS - what happened to that?
Yet all is not lost. Research from Gartner suggests 1.2 billion smartphones will be sold in 2013. If there was ever an opportunity to tackle Android and iOS’ foothold on the mobile market, now is that time. It’s unlikely all these operating systems will survive, but one or two might do some damage.
Judging by Firefox OS’ reception at MWC last week, Mozilla’s effort seems like a real contender. But what mobile platform would you bet money on?