In the Desktop Operating System space, we all know what happened between Apple and Microsoft. While Apple tied their OS to their hardware, MS succeeded taking more of an open approach letting any device manufacturers bundle their OS. This resulted in an entire eco-system giving them greater distribution and eventually a monopoly. Though many believe Apple has a superior product, Microsoft won against Apple in the desktop market through distribution.
Now we have a new venue – Mobile OS. The mobile phone is proving to be the most important device as we carry it more than our laptops. While Microsoft & BlackBerry kind of dominated the not-so-smart-smartphones, the iPhone changed the market significantly and suddenly the mobile OS space got more interesting. It is probably fair to say that there is more activity in the Mobile OS space (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, WebOS, Symbian etc) rather than Desktop OS space(Windows, Mac & Linux).
The bigger question now is, who will gain the distribution in the mobile market? Looks like Google is following Microsoft’s path with their open platform approach letting Android flourish with various devices, manufacturers & Service Providers carrying it. We are seeing Android devices from HTC, Huawei, Samsung, Motorola, Acer, Archos, Dell, Lenovo, LG, Sony Ericsson etc. TechCrunch has the complete list (but of course it’s never really complete).
Google so far seem to be doing well with their Microsoftish strategy, out-opening MS in almost all areas. The Droid phone from Verizon seem to be the latest release and we will see many more devices from this camp. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s legacy baggage is hurting them in this fast moving market. For now, it looks like Google is out pacing Microsoft at its strategy.
We basically have two camps now. One camp focused on offering a seamless experienince by offering both hardware and software exclusively (iPhone, Web OS, BlackBerry) and another camp (Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian) separating the software stack from hardware and making it simple for distribution. Each of these models have their advantages and disadvantages, but it’ll be interesting to see how this market will evolve.
What is your take? Which model do you think will win the Mobile OS market?