Mobile phone platform wars

by billso on Wednesday, 20 February 2008

The plat­form wars are heat­ing up in the mobile phone indus­try. It is very dif­fi­cult for a mobile car­rier to sup­port sev­eral dif­fer­ent hand­set oper­at­ing sys­tems. Voda­phone CEO Arun Sarin esti­mated that his UK-based com­pany sup­ports 30 or 40 dif­fer­ent OSes, accord­ing to this Mac­World UK report. Sarin is also quited in this Busi­ness Week arti­cle.

It takes a great deal of effort to estab­lish a com­put­ing stan­dard. Con­sider Apple, which became a new entrant with its iPhone. There are about 4 mil­lion Apple iPhones avail­able or in use now, which is a respectable num­ber when one con­sid­ers its lim­ited avail­abil­ity. There are no offi­cial iPhone providers in China or Japan yet, for example.

Google won’t make or mar­ket its own mobile phone, espe­cially now that the com­pany has dropped out of the 700 mHz auc­tion, as reported by Forbes. The company’s Android mobile phone plat­form is based upon Linux, and over 30 com­pa­nies have signed on to develop and sup­port Android hard­ware. Pro­to­types of the Google phone were shown in Frank­furt at the Mobile World Con­gress this week. This CNET slideshow starts with a pic of one such pro­to­type, which appears to be run­ning and con­nected to a GSM network.

Microsoft used a sim­i­lar approach to develop its Win­dows Mobile plat­form for PDAs and smart­phones. The com­pany expects that 20 mil­lion Win­dows Mobile phones from var­i­ous man­u­fac­tur­ers will be sold in the first half of 2008. None of these phones are Microsoft-branded devices.

Sym­bian claims to have the top spot, with 77 mil­lion units sold in the last year. Nokia is the main man­u­fac­turer that uses the Sym­bian oper­at­ing sys­tem, along with Sony Eric­s­son. The lat­ter com­pany has started using Win­dows Mobile in its high-end smart­phones, however.

For more infor­ma­tion, see my ear­lier arti­cles tagged as mobile, includ­ing:

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    From the New York Times, here’s some quick reviews of new smart­phones from Sony Eric­s­son, Sam­sung and Nokia. Motorola is rep­re­sented by a media player. As the soft­ware becomes more pow­er­ful, the hard­ware design­ers have to fit more fea­tures into a tight form factor.

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