There was one big difference at the Mobile World Congress 2014 that opened in Barcelona this February. The difference was that we were given highlights of who is making their mark in ‘Next Generation Mobile OS.’ Let’s take a look at who will compete with Google Android, Apple iOS and Microsoft Windows in the Next Generation Mobile OS market.
The State of Mobile OS
Currently, the mobile market can be divided into 2 parts, Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Most mobile users have a tendency to put a higher value on the ‘accessibility’ to use apps they are familiar with or have already purchased and the ‘user experience’ rather than the basic performance of an OS. So, users are not experiencing significant dissatisfaction with mobile OSs and do not express a severe need for a new OS. From this perspective, Next Generation Mobile OS developers are setting strategic groundwork for improving product competiveness and OS independence instead of responding to users’ needs.
In 2013, Android OS had a global market share of 78.4%, an increase of almost 10%. Thus, we are seeing an acceleration of the ‘Google Android Focus Phenomenon’ in the mobile market. As most mobile handset manufacturers do not have their own OS, they are highly dependent on Google Android and this market structure is seen as potentially dangerous. There is a great need for reform of the current system in a market where OS developers such as Google, Apple and Samsung are continuously invading each other’s territory. Businesses fighting to survive in this ever increasingly competitive market feel that this reform is absolutely necessary.
Mobile OS and HTML5, the Foundation of Web Platforms
The main web platforms that serve as a foundation for Next Generation Mobile OS are Firefox, TIZEN and Ubuntu. Since these platforms are mobile operating systems based on HTML5, they are not subordinate to a specific platform but can run multiple environments from one development. This makes it possible to drastically decreased development costs.
Existing mobile OSs such as Android, iOS and Windows require specific development for each environment. For example, a service provider for iOS must implement a separate service for the Google OS platform in order to provide Android services. This shortcoming causes an increase in development and support costs. However, with a HTML5 based smartphone, tablet or PC it is possible to operate regardless of the device or operating system. Having a system not be dependent on a particular operating system can conserve time and expenses. The developer ecosystem is expanding in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environment through One-Source Multi-Devices (OSMD) and the basis of this technology is HTML5.
3 Major Players in Next Generation Mobile OS
Since MWC 2013, 3 Next Generation Mobile developers have begun to compete in the market. 1 year later, at MWC 2014, we were definitely able to see the progress these three players in Next Generation Mobile OS have made. Many specialists have emerged in the Next Generation Mobile OS niche market and there were high expectations for big changes in the mobile OS market. However, we were disappointed to see that the real state of Next Generation Mobile OS did not meet up to expectations.
The most significant development we saw at MWC 2014 may be a $25 low cost phone demonstrated by Firefox, which was developed through cooperation between a manufacturer and a mobile communications company. The Firefox OS smartphone is not much different from feature phones already on the market except for it has a touch screen. But, this phone has superior execution speeds. Execution speeds are superior due to the fact that the Firefox OS screen including the background screen, apps list, UI and configuration menu were developed with HTML5.
TIZEN is a smart device OS that was developed in a joint effort between Samsung and Intel, both members of the TIZEN Association. Considering the amount of money invested in the development and marketing of TIZEN in the past year, TIZEN was a disappointment at MWC 2014. In the 3rd quarter of 2013, the announcement of the TIZEN smartphone was pivotal for KT (Korea), Orange (France) and DoCoMo(Japan). But since then, people have become apprehensive of TIZEN as they have continued to postpone the release. Samsung made an attempt to relieve this apprehension by running the TIZEN OS on their wearable device line Gear 2. However, with the recent demonstration of Google Android Wear, the status of TIZEN is uncertain.
The UK’s Linux solution company Canonical, which released the Ubuntu OS for smartphone, ‘Ubuntu for Phone’ at CES 2013, demonstrated ‘Ubuntu Touch’ for tablets. This release was one of Ubuntu’s most anticipated Next Generation Mobile OS developments. But, we were unable to see how Ubuntu will successfully structure the entire ecosystem. There did not seem to be much of a difference between MWC 2013 and MWC 2014 and the competition has not improved much.
The Next Generation Mobile OSs introduced above are all open source, partnership, Web based OSs. It is clear that the emersion of Next Generation Gobile OS has lead to the decrease in dependence on Google Android and simultaneously increased consumers’ options. Next Generation Mobile OSs such as TIZEN, Ubuntu and Firefox have emerged as alternatives to Google Android and have reduced fears concerning the dependence on societal dependence on Google Android.
However, the current mobile market is still dominated by Google Android, Apple iOS and MS Windows. Additionally, as the smartphone market is becoming saturated with new mobile OSs, OS providers, manufacturers and telecommunications companies must be stay sharp to be successful. It is time for manufacturers and telecommunications companies to end their dependence on one mobile OS so that a more diverse and competitive ecosystem can emerge and propagate the further development of Next Generation Mobile OS.
Written by Dong-Gyu Lee (www.trendsavvy.net Pen name: ‘Vierge‘)