&472/ IT for the CEO in a Nutshell: Smartphone Operating Systems

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I have to admit, I was late. Though I was involved in the German Windows CE/ Pocket PC 2000 web site relaunch around 2000, I jumped on the user bandwagon just after iPhone 3G officially arrived in Switzerland this summer. In the meantime I was using mobile phones as calling devices, going for a Nokia, a Motorola, and two Sony Ericssons.

I never synchronized my address book, as proprietary software tended to regularly freeze my PC. I never used Internet access. I never bought ringtones or games.

Things have changed with a cell phone being a mail-client, an iPod, and an internet terminal at the same time and giving access to 100000 applications from 3rd party vendors. The only features I will miss on Apple's new gadget are the video camera and the radio I had with Sony Ericsson already 4 years ago. Never mind. Times have changed and smartphones or smart phones and multi touch are the way to go!

An O'Reilly article written by Michael Juntao Yuan from August 2005 gives a definition:

"A Smartphone combines the functions of a cellular phone and a handheld computer in a single device. It differs from a normal phone in that it has an operating system and local storage, so users can add and store information, send and receive email, and install programs to the phone as they could with a PDA. A smartphone gives users the best of both worlds - it has much the same capabilities as a handheld computer and the communications ability of a mobile phone."

Wikipedia.org states: "For some, a smartphone is a phone that runs complete operating system software providing a standardized interface and platform for application developers."

In that sense, every mobile phone will be a smartphone in the near future and we might drop the smart from the phone soon. As of today, there are several major operating systems, derived from Windows CE, from Mac OS X, as well as developed for the mobile market only (from wikipedia.org):

  • Symbian OS from Symbian Ltd. (46,6% Market Share Sales Q3 2008) Symbian has the largest share in most markets worldwide, but lags behind other companies in the relatively small but highly visible North American market. This matches the success of its largest shareholder and customer, Nokia, in all markets except Japan. Nokia itself enjoys 52.9% of the smartphone market. In Japan Symbian is strong due to a relationship with NTT DoCoMo, with only one of the 44 Symbian handsets released in Japan coming from Nokia. It is used by many major handset manufacturers, including BenQ, LG, Motorola, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson.
  • iPhone OS from Apple Inc. (17.3% Market Share Sales Q3 2008): The iPhone (and iPod Touch) use an operating system called iPhone OS, which is derived from Mac OS X. With the release of iPhone OS 2.0 on July 11th 2008, native applications are now available and can be downloaded through the iTunes App Store.
  • RIM BlackBerry operating system (15.2% Market Share Sales Q3 2008): This OS is focused on easy operation and was originally designed for business. Recently it has seen a surge in third-party applications and has been improved to offer full multimedia support.
  • Windows Mobile from Microsoft (13.6% Market Share Sales Q3 2008): Windows CE operating system along with Windows Mobile middleware are widely spread in Asia. The two improved variants of this operating system, Windows Mobile 6 Professional (for touch screen devices) and Windows Mobile 6 Standard were unveiled in February 2007. Windows Mobile is enjoying great popularity because of the low barrier to entry for third-party developers to write new applications for the platform.
  • Linux operating system (5.1% Market Share Sales Q3 2008): Linux is strongest in China where it is used by Motorola, and in Japan, used by DoCoMo. Rather than being a platform in its own right, Linux is used as a basis for a number of different platforms developed by several vendors, including Motorola and TrollTech, which are mostly incompatible. PalmSource (now Access) is moving towards an interface running on Linux. Another platform based on Linux is being developed by Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic, Samsung, and Vodafone.
  • Palm OS developed by PalmSource (now a subsidiary of ACCESS): PalmSource traditionally used its own platform developed by Palm Inc. Access Linux Platform (ALP) is an improvement that was planned to be launched in the first half of 2007. It will use technical specifications from the Linux Phone Standards Forum.
  • Android from Google (Released 22 Oct 2008): Android, which was developed by Google, has yet to own even a small part of the smartphone market because of its recent release date. The OS is currently only on the HTC Dream (G1), running on T-Mobile USA's network. Android was developed as a platform that could be run on many devices. Although the Android operating system may be built to run on many devices, it is run exclusively on T-Mobile's G1 at the moment.

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