Friday, January 4, 2013

Mobile OS Race

Welcome to 2013 folks.  It is a new year.  This means that there will be a SLEW of new technology coming our way.  Next week kicks off CES 2013.  I wish I was able to go, but considering I am not a "major news source", I don't have the credentials.  Of course, if I had the cash flow, you know I would be there.  Regardless, I am going to talk about the onset of the Mobile OS's, and what I expect to see happening this year, based off of what everyone is expecting to see next week.

The mobile OS race is a serious race.  Companies that create their proprietary OS gets a lot of personal time with users, and gives them immediate revenue from their respective market ecosystems.  In a lot of cases, it also creates a lot of revenue from ads and search.  I am going to discuss each major OS that we can expect to see more of in not only the news, but in the stores as the various carriers begin to pick up devices carrying the OS.

iOS - Apple is rumored to already be working on iOS 7, along with the next iPhone.  Whether the next iPhone will be a full upgrade to be recognized as 6, or an incremental upgrade, we will have to wait and see. Either way, I would be willing to speculate that we will see more "non-Apple" products gleaned off of the OS.  Apple is going to focus on promoting in house products before third party products, as they have already been doing with Google products.  I also expect to see significant updates to products, such as Maps.

Android - What to expect here is a bit of a crap shoot, as Google seems to constantly surprise us with top notch products all of the time.  Regardless, I anticipate the Android platform to pick up a larger swath of the market over the course of this year.  I am also willing to wager that by the next Google I|O we will see a new Nexus 7 tablet announcement.  I certainly hope that Google adds a out facing camera this go around.  Also expect Google to find ways to add more memory, and ways to incorporate cloud storage further into the platform.

Blackberry OS - Blackberry 10 is on the verge of being officially released soon.  It is expected this month, if not next month.  Based on the information I have gleaned over the course of last year, the new OS will utilize the Unix based OS QNX Neutrino.  QNX was purchased by RIM in April 2010.  This was the same OS that is in the Playbook OS.  This gives Blackberry a platform that offers familiarity to developers when creating their apps.  It also offers scalability.  This could very well be the fresh start that RIM desperately needs to stay competitive in the corporate world.

Windows Phone 8 - Microsoft's Windows Phone OS has not really caught on all to well when it was released in 2010.  However, Microsoft is banking on the functionality and scalability of the new OS 8 to bring in users.  This is a platform I do not expect to fly all to well.  The only way I see this gaining market traction is if users buy into the Windows 8 OS for tablets and PC's with the mentality that "it makes sense" to live in that ecosystem exclusively, much as how most Apple iPhone users stick to iOS and MacOS products.

Ubuntu - This is a surprising one.  This is from Canonical, who develops the Ubuntu desktop/laptop OS.  It is a pure Linux experience.  Rather than using Dalvik, as Android uses, Ubuntu may create an easier environment to work with as a developer.  Interestingly, adoption will be quite easy for many hardware manufactures as Ubuntu Mobile works on any device that was designed for Android.  I don't expect to see this one in the U.S. until much later this year, as carriers will need to decide how to implement it into their line up.  I give this platform the most early credit to compete with Android.

Firefox OS - Mozilla has a lot riding on this platform.  However, I do not see it gaining a great deal of support from developers, manufactures or carriers.  It is a platform relying almost exclusively on Web Apps. It appears to be a mobile OS built entirely around the Mobile Browser.  I have a problem with this squarely on the fact that the web changes constantly.  It evolves every day.  When new web technologies are released, mobile browsers baked right into the OS are the first to suffer, as they do not update quickly.  And seeing that the browser is the OS, updates will be very slow to come out as major OS updates must be reviewed and authorized by the carriers.  I foresee this as a DOA OS.

Bada - Samsung has had this platform around for a while now.  It has a following in Korea and surrounding countries, but not a single following here.  Bada is developed by Samsung, whom I view as the biggest "copycat" company in the world.  This OS looks a LOT like Android.  Perhaps a bit to much.  It was unveiled in 2010, so with it being 2013 now, I don't see it taking off at all in the U.S. markets.

Tizen - This is a relatively new OS based on Linux standards.  I do not expect to see anything going on this year with this OS, other than developmental announcements.  This platform sounds a LOT like Ubuntu and Android.  However, unlike Canonical and Google, Tizen doesn't have the current clout to stand out.  I expect this platform to go relatively unnoticed over the course of the year, and then fade into obscurity...at least within the U.S. markets.  This could be a platform that could very easily shine in the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese markets.

Now, I am sure there will be a few unexpected surprises this year.  Everyone considers PalmOS dead, but don't forget that it has been released to the Open Source community.  I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere it pops up again this year.  However, don't hold your breath.

As for hardware this year, Tegra 4 is on the verge of release.  Expect to see a LOT of Tegra 4 at CES next week, and at E3.  I also anticipate seeing new technologies come out this year, such as phones using Samsung's impressive looking "flexible glass".  There will certainly be some functional prototypes at CES next week, I am sure.  Beyond that, the rest is up in the air.

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