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MWC: Mobile OS Scorecard

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It’s not as fun as counting delegates from Super Tuesday, and figuring out which mobile operating system is pulling ahead can be complex, but we’re on it. And while we’re not tallying intangibles such as the “cool” factor of the phone, and have no idea how well each will sell, we are tracking which operating system is being used on the 28 (by our unscientific count) new handsets that have launched at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. We still have three more days, so stay tuned.

LiMo, the Linux Mobile OS, has topped the list, with 15 phones launching and three prototypes planned for later this year. Motorola and NTT DoCoMo are heavily behind the LiMo efforts, with six and eight LiMo phones launching respectively.

Microsoft has managed to get its Windows Mobile OS on the Sony-Ericsson Xperia line of phones. Although it’s being trumpeted as a coup for Redmond, in reality it’s kind of a letdown compared to the rumors of Nokia signing up for some Windows action.

Until those rumors come true, however, Nokia is squarely behind Symbian, an allegiance the Finnish phone maker has proven via heavy investment. Its four latest phones, including the N96, run on Symbian, as will two Sony-Ericsson devices, one from Samsung and an LG, for a total of eight new handsets.

In other I-wish-this-were-more-exciting news, Android got a showing, but only on prototype phones running chips chips from firms such as Texas Instruments, ST Microelectronics and ARM Holdings. Maybe we’ll see more from Android at CTIA in April.

12 Responses to “MWC: Mobile OS Scorecard”

  1. U.S. smartphone (loosely described as a phone with PC-like functionality) penetration is only expected to hit 10 percent this year, but growing fast. NoRIM.jpgWith the market split among so many competitors, the natural order eventually will be consolidate or condense.

    But we won’t see systems leave the market for a while, for three reasons.

    1. The margins for high-end phones are high, so the ability to monetize and the incentive to stay in the market are both high.
    2. The market is maturing and the overall “size of the pie” is growing, so all players will see a return on their initial investments for the next few years.
    3. The innovation cycle is still in the early stages, which means that new products can be expected that will significantly alter the playing field. Apple’s iPhone is cool – but expect it to inspire much cooler products in the next three seasons.

    I have my own predictions on which players will survive when the shakeout happens. For instance, I don’t elieve that Android/Google will be around by 2012. You can read the predictions at

  2. @Michael

    We will probably never see a handset manufacturer use the Apple OS on their system. It is going to stay within the Apple walls. Hence it probably will never get a mention in such tallying efforts, where we are trying to find out how many handset manufacturers (or in this case # of phones) use the same OS.

  3. No — LiMO is not android. Don’t ask me why Google didn’t want to get on board with Moto — something about rats and sinking ship.

    The elephant in the room: Apple. Destroyed Windows Mobile and Palm in the US. Prevented Symbian from every taking off (again in the US) Will probably negotiate a truce with RIM (Apple gets consumers, RIM gets business). Palm’s new idea of competing on price (under $100) makes sense, as I don’t see an iphone nano anytime soon.

    I do wish LiMO would come up with a isync plug in for the Mac….