2013 is going to be an interesting year in mobile. While mobile platforms like Android and iOS have their feet planted firmly, the rest of the competition will have to slug it out for some serious stake in the market. By “the rest of the competition”, I mean the following platforms: BlackBerry 10, Windows Phone, Tizen, and Sailfish. Here is a rundown of how things stand with each of these smartphone platforms.
By end of January 2013, RIM will be outing their new BlackBerry 10 platform and two smartphones. If what we have seen is anything to go by, BlackBerry 10 is looking to be awesome. BlackBerry has an almost cult-like following, weakened as that following may be. I haven’t owned a BlackBerry in months, but I have my eye on the N-series device for its hardware QWERTY keyboard. But it will be no easy fight for RIM. They need to get their boxing gloves on and swing heavily.
Microsoft’s new baby is still having a bit of a struggling gaining a firm foothold in the smartphone market despite Nokia’s involvement. However, it is still early days, and it won’t be as easy for Windows Phone as it would have been had other platforms not showed up. Now, Windows Phone has to go head-to-had against at least three strong contenders first before we can even begin to talk of squaring against iOS and Android.
Part of the problem is that some Windows Phone makers have interests elsewhere – Android and Tizen, for example. Still, Windows Phone has a champion, a weakened one too, in Nokia. Oh, and Windows Phone already has a two-three month head-start. Will that count in the long run?
Tizen is the product of the alliance between Intel and Samsung after Nokia dumped MeeGo. Intel got Samsung to replace Nokia on the project and it got re-christened “Tizen”. Samsung have announced that they will be launching multiple Tizen devices this year. That is huge, because they have the muscles and clout to convert a significant number of their smartphone base from Android (and probably Bada too) to Tizen. Yes; Tizen is Samsung’s insurance against Android. The Koreans are smart enough to know that someday they may need to part ways with Google and control the end-to-end experience of their smartphones.
Samsung has plans to sell 390 million smartphones this year. If just 10 million of those are Tizen smartphones…. do the math. Bang!
Incidentally, Sailfish is also an offspring of MeeGo. A small team of ex-Nokia guys formed a company named Jolla and are pushing on with MeeGo, but have named their OS, Sailfish. Sailfish may be owned by a new, small company, but the brains behind it appear smart. They have formed an alliance with D.Phone – China’s largest retailer for mobile phones. Anyone who knows how massive the Chinese market is, knows that it is good sense to get a firm footing in China before spending elsewhere. Clearly, Jolla is smarter than Nokia on this score. Nokia gave up the Chinese market (and others) for the US market, a huge mistake, if you ask me. It is this smart move by Jolla that makes them a contender at all.
I love the variety that the mobile market will throw at consumers in 2013. Personally, I am sick and tired of the lack of options in the market now. If you want anything exciting, it is either you buy an iPhone or a droid. Sheeesh. For now, these are the contenders in the smartphone space. Ubuntu won’t be ready till next year. Firefox OS isn’t ready to fly either. What of Bada? Bada OS is doing quite fine, despite its relatively low profile. But I expect that Samsung will let it go at some point in time.
It is also interesting to note that of the contenders listed in this article, two (Sailfish and Tizen) are Linux-based. Add those to Android and it is clear that Linux is set to dominate computing. Linux may have lost the desktop war, but mobile computing and the future of computing as a whole seem to belong to Linux.
I am happy to see this greater variety, after all, “the more, the merrier”.