The consolidation of the mobile industry

Yesterday Nokia bought all of Symbian and today LiPS and LiMo joined forces. We live in the most interest and most difficult of times when it comes to cellphone operating systems.

To make it more clear: today is nothing but 1985 in PC operating system times. Apple has just introduced the Macintosh (iPhone), an OEM-based Windows OS is about to come out (Android), while the developer friendly Amiga is currently have more users than anyone else (Symbian), while the older Atari (PalmOS) and Amstrad (Windows Mobile) are still fighting for a while more. And of course there are myriad other smaller OSes that are not based on the older command line doctrine (“feature phones”), that will almost eclipse in a few years.

The point of my analogy above is that while we don’t know who will finally make it and get that same 95% market share in the mobile industry (as Windows 98 managed to achieve for PCs), that day is coming. It’s unavoidable, because as these devices mature and do “more”, people will rely on them more. And when you have too many people rely too much on these devices, then these people need compatibility between all these devices. And this eventually creates the “monopoly”. We are 10-12 years away from such a “monopoly”, but it will eventually happen. Either through elimination or consolidation.

The real question is: will Apple redo the same mistake with the iPhone as they did with the Macintosh by not opening it to OEMs?

10 Comments »

Paul wrote on June 26th, 2008 at 7:10 PM PST:

Could the wide adoption of open standards change this picture. If compatibility can be achieved without monopoly why couldn’t we see a healthy market.

The biggest difference I see between now and then is the open source movement exists.


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Eugenia wrote on June 26th, 2008 at 7:13 PM PST:

Yes, OSS exists, but this doesn’t mean that everyone is using the “same” OSS. OSS might help bring compatibility between most platforms, or these companies can still have it their way and fork them and create their own thing, completely incompatible from anyone else’s. It can go either way.


Paul wrote on June 26th, 2008 at 9:11 PM PST:

It can indeed go either way, and I don’t know which will play out, but I would guess that OSS will prevent a repeat of what we saw in the past. A monopoly may still result but I suspect that if it does there will be more resistance to that than in the past.


Mike wrote on June 26th, 2008 at 11:25 PM PST:

“Symbian OS” and “developer-friendly” in the same sentence? *shudder*

Unless Nokia ports Qt to Symbian OS or Symbian itself rethinks its toolchain and APIs, it will be a sad day for developers when (and if) Symbian becomes a monopoly, as the current trend suggests.

Symbian succeeds not because it’s developer friendly but due to Nokia’s promotion. Most Symbian users don’t even know that their device actually has an OS that runs applications.


vvaz wrote on June 27th, 2008 at 8:16 AM PST:

“Unless Nokia ports Qt to Symbian OS”

That is the idea: Qt Everywhere. According to notes presented by Nokia few months ago Qt(opia) will become universal GUI toolkit for all Nokia apps – on phones, desktop and all other mobile devices. Maybe, but just maybe, with exclusion of Nokia Internet
Tablets where GTK will stay major player – but alongside Qt.

“Most Symbian don’t even know that their device actually has an OS that runs applications”

Well, this is good thing IMO. Why user has to know such trivia?


jc wrote on June 28th, 2008 at 8:40 AM PST:

One thing you’re missing, and it’s a huge thing, is J2ME. There was no J2ME back in the early days of computing, there was no “write once, tweak a bit, and run on anything”. And despite the knock J2ME gets, the tweaking involved in moving code from phone to phone is infinitely easier than a port from S60 -> WinMo. Had there been a sort of J2ME back then, we’d still be using Amigas today.

And Symbian/S60 being easy to develop for… the earlier poster had it spot on. S60 is the *least* friendly platform to develop on. It makes the palm look… utopian.


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Eugenia wrote on June 29th, 2008 at 4:34 PM PST:

>“write once, tweak a bit, and run on anything”.

J2ME is a total joke. Total joke. It will have no impact whatsoever in the kind of future I am talking about.


jc wrote on June 29th, 2008 at 8:09 PM PST:

Don’t tell the guys at Opera. Or Google. They’ve spent a bit of time developing apps for a total joke. A total joke. 🙂


Himmele wrote on June 30th, 2008 at 1:19 AM PST:

But now the guys at Google develop for a more promising Java VM: Dalvik. Register-based and very fast.
Furthermore the whole Android system relies on a powerful software component framework named Binder (or OpenBinder).
In my opinion the Google guys brought the right pieces of open source software together to build a mobile OS!
Sadly, QNX (once again) missed this market.


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Eugenia wrote on June 30th, 2008 at 4:04 PM PST:

>They’ve spent a bit of time developing apps for a total joke.

Because from 2003 to 2007 it made sense, because it was the only thing that was kinda manageable. But the truth is, J2ME is on the way out, big time.


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