Smartphone OS Proliferation: The Madness Has Stopped

Smartphone OS Enterprise Aug 2011

I did a rant blog entry in August of 2010 entitled Smartphone OS Proliferation: When Will The Madness Stop?  The answer may be now.  What a difference a year makes.

The Down-and-Out

The big news of late is ,of course, webOS.  HP announced in August 2011 that they will no longer be producing webOS devices.  This comes after launching the new TouchPad media tablet in July (The move didn’t quite break the record of Microsoft’s Kin).  While HP hasn’t shut the the door on webOS software, it certainly doesn’t look like there will be much effort in developing the platform in the near term.

Another key announcement earlier in 2011 was Nokia moving away from Symbian.  Although it was (and is) the top smartphone OS worldwide, Nokia’s Stephen Elop called it a ‘burning platform’.  And the move was not towards Meego which was viewed by Nokia as not quick enough to deliver competitive solutions.

Of course Microsoft’s Windows Mobile is being phased out.

And RIM’s BlackBerry OS, which is used by many enterprises, will eventually be replaced.

The Remains-To-Be-Seen

RIM has been profitable but its market share has been slipping.  It’s counting on the migration to the QNX operating system that first appeared in its PlayBook media tablet.  RIM is big in the enterprise, but no QNX smartphones are out yet, and the integration of QNX into the RIM ecosystem (like BES and BIS) isn’t mature.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 was launched in late 2010.  Overall, sales have been lukewarm.  Even Steve Ballmer has stated that sales have gone “from very small to very small”.  The announcement that Nokia will be using Windows Phone 7 as their flagship operating system is expected to drive additional interest.  While nothing from the new Nokia/Windows Phone 7 partnership has been released yet, both Gartner and IDC predict that WP7 will be the second leading worldwide smartphone OS in 2015.

And Samsung’s bada hasn’t really taken off.

The Powerhouses

Apple’s iOS has not only been popular with the consumer but has made significant gains in the enterprise.  In April of 2011, Apple reported that 88% of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying iPhone devices and 75% have similar initiatives with the iPad.

The growth of Google’s Android has been phenomenal and is reportedly the top smartphone OS in many parts of the world.  Its adoption in the enterprise hasn’t been as strong as iOS, but there is a lot of interest.

What does all of this mean to enterprises?

Overall, less complexity and costs.  Less complexity and costs in application development and support.  Less complexity and costs in infrastructure products such as mobile device management and mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAPs).

While complexity and costs are being reduced, we still aren’t at the point of the PC market where there is one dominant OS.  Quite frankly, the mobile OS market will probably never reach this.  However, picking from four or five platforms is a lot more palatable than 10.  After all, choice is a good thing.  Just not too much choice.

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One Comment on “Smartphone OS Proliferation: The Madness Has Stopped”


  1. Randy, do you think that it’s enough to provide mobile solutions for iOS and selected Android OS’s? Or do we still need to support the next three devices in the market share race?

    Also, is the need for a “MEAP” solution as critical with only a few target platforms?

    One of the challenges enterprises have, of course, is to provide the best quality mobile experience to the most number of people.

    There is no “magic bullet”, but it’s looking more like a combination of native apps for the top 2 platforms and web apps (HTML5 soon) may hold the fort for awhile.


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