Rounding Up Mobile Operating Systems

So as Mobile becomes the norm, we’re seeing new OS’s being delivered into the market but what is there?  Who uses them and whats the point of all these Operating Systems?  I’m going to take a step back and then give you a brief and candid take across all 3 Mobile markets (Rugged, Enterprise and Mobile Phone)

What Mobile Operating Systems are there today?

Todays Mobile OS landscape looks very different and its largely due to where the battle has shifted to, see below.

Still the most common overall is Nokia and Symbian OS40 or OS60.  Despite Nokia being in massive decline, they still have a legacy of mobile phones that a lot of people still use.  Nokia have been focussing on their phone business though and it’s not really where the money is so their Enterprise level smartphones have suffered and lost a lot of ground to rivals.  There’s no Nokia in the rugged market and they have actually dropped their own OS in favour of using Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform from the end of this year.  A lot of Samsung, LG and other more basic phones are still based on this OS.

Blackberry are very focussed on the Enterprise Smartphone area of the business.  Their little “Crack Berries” transformed email on the move and they still have a string foothold in this area of the market with new more smartphone-ish devices appearing along with their first tablet this year.

Android are the newest and the fastest growing OS on the market.  They already overtook Apples IOS and they are still going string.  We’re seeing android devices in the rugged Market and the little Linux based OS is in a very nice place to offer the only proper end to end solution in the market today.  Android gives you the only OS that your couriers and your Managers can both use, however we feel it’s not quite up to the Rugged Line of business readiness just yet.  Android is free, runs on practically anything and as such most handset manufacturers like HTC, Motorola etc have many devices running Android.  Google also bought Motorola’s Enterprise Mobile business last month so ta lot is going to happen in this space.

Apple IOS can’t be ignored, it revolutionised the smartphone and Tablet markets and their iPhones and iPads are still at the top of most top 10 gadget reviews.  With Steve Jobs now missing thought can they maintain the innovation they need to carry them through the next decade?  Despite being very closed shop and very Enterprise focussed, Apples support for accessory development means we’re now seeing EPOS solutions, jackets and card readers hitting the market that essentially put it into the Rugged market.  We very interested here to see where that goes.

Microsoft has 2 OS’s aimed at the mobile market and despite being the household name on your laptop or PC, they are far from the big boys in the mobile market.  Missing a trick or 2 on the mobile front Microsoft has been late with its Enterprise Smartphone aimed Windows Phone 7 OS, but it’s here, alive and kicking and is a very nice OS with some very nice features.  For the Rugged market its maintaining its Windows Mobile branch of OS development, currently called Windows Embedded 6.5.  Microsoft tech is also embedded in a lot of modular devices in the form of Windows Embedded 7.

Lastly it seemed that Palm were making a come back with their Palm Pre PDA’s and then being bought out by HP.  There’s even a couple of Palm Rugged PDA’s available.  However HP announced last week that its dropping its desktop business and Palm will be going with it.  Palm were one of the founding mobile OS makers so its sad to see them go.

So where do we see this going in the future?

It’s very uncertain.  Apple will rely on their next incarnation of IOS and devices to give them a push up.  despite being very revolutionary, not an awful lot has changed since then but I think they have such great brand loyalty and such great products and services that they’ll be around for some time.  Microsoft os the interesting one, we’re of course very interested in what’s going to be our OS in the Rugged line of business world and the fewer the better if truth be told, but with 2 OS’s now servicing different markets it’s a strategy that could fail them or serve them well.  We personally don;t want to have to learn 4 or 5 OS’s and development platforms if we can help it, and we certainly can;t be expert in them all and it will be down to hardware Rugged PDA makers to see how they adopt outside of the Microsoft sphere.  Windows Phone 7 though is very nice and if Microsoft can get their marketing engine to work then its going to be a serious contender in my view.

Blackberry are very niche, very focussed and also have a great brand people like.  I think we’ll see a lot happening here as they try to broaden their business into other areas, like Tablets.  What they do, they do so well and their devices are very good and inexpensive.

Nokia are in trouble and I feel its going to take something very special to pull them back.  It looks to me like the king of the Mobiles is going to have to get used to being smaller and a more hardware oriented provider now that they’re using Microsoft WP7.

Android are the shakers here though.  Google aren’t going anywhere and they have got Android bang on.  Its capable of running across all 3 markets, they have the open-source mass of people behind them and despite what people say, Google as a brand are still very much liked.  I think the recent purchase of Motorola will have its pro’s and cons but its a sure sign of their intentions if nothing else.  With a plethora of phones now available I think these guys are the ones to watch.

I think that rounds up talking about Mobile OS’s for a while, next week we’re going to turn to tracking and device management as we finally prep a few new products in this area!

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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