Where new opportunity lies in the mobile operating system space

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. The current mobile operating system market
  3. The newcomers
    1. BlackBerry 10
    2. Firefox OS
    3. Tizen (and maybe a Samsung-flavored Android?)
    4. Ubuntu
    5. Sailfish
  4. Conclusion
  5. Key takeaways
  6. About Colin Gibbs

1. Summary

The battle of mobile operating systems has seen a noticeable lack of disruption since Apple and Google changed the industry nearly six years ago, and no other operating system has been able to challenge the two leaders. Android claimed an overwhelming 68.4 percent share of worldwide smartphone sales in 2012, according to Strategy Analytics, while Apple accounted for 19.4 percent. “Other” — a category that includes BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone, and the winnowing Symbian audience — shared the remaining 12.2 percent sliver of the market.

That might change beginning this year, however. Roughly half a dozen new platforms will come to market over the next 6 to 12 months, many of which look to be more sophisticated than the older OSes controlled by Apple and Google. Many of these newcomers will leverage HTML5 in several ways: Firefox OS, Tizen, and Ubuntu, for instance, can run HTML5-based apps without a browser, and some provide a higher-quality HTML5 experience through the browser. Just as importantly, these new platforms will attempt either to dilute the impact of existing apps ecosystems or to mimic the “browser as OS” effect. And some are being supported by several of the biggest companies in mobile.

This report will examine the most noteworthy of these new operating systems, Blackberry 10, Firefox, Tizen, and others. It will also document their competitive advantages and disadvantages and gauge what their chances of success — or even true disruption — might be.

Key findings and predictions from this report include:

  • Several new operating systems will depend heavily on HTML5, eschewing the native apps that have fueled the growth of Android and iOS. While these launches are certain to give the web-based technology a boost, they will limit the capabilities of the new platforms.
  • Competition in emerging markets will continue to heat up as low-priced, HTML5-based handsets fight for market share against Android, BlackBerry OS, and semi-smartphones like Nokia’s Asha line.
  • BlackBerry 10 is clearly targeted at mature markets — primarily North America and Western Europe — where Android and iOS are particularly dominant. But it will also compete against Samsung’s new ecosystem of Android-based devices and services targeted at both consumers and business users.

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