Battle of the Mobile Operating Systems

Symbian. Windows Mobile. Palm. Blackberry. OSX. Android. Maemo.

These are all mobile operating systems (OS). Some have been around longer than others. The new kids on the block are OSX and Android, and they are having their day. While Palm is an old platform, the complete revamp that has been executed on the OS has transformed its hitherto dated interface into something hip and up-to-date, just as obtains on the newer kids.

Symbian, the world’s most widely used mobile OS, has also undergone a revamp with the S60 5th Edition, but with not quite an elegant result as Palm. I have been “Symbian Inside” for the most of my mobile life, having used S80 (Nokia 9500), UIQ (P990, P1i) and S60 (E61, E61i, E90, E75) devices for years.

I have not hidden my position that Symbian as it currently is needs a serious facelift of its user interface to get up-to-date with current fads in the industry. I have even held that position strongly. But there seem to be those who think that Symbian is actually going to die off. I seriously doubt that. At least not anytime soon.

If what Nokia has pulled off on the N900 tablet-phone is anything to go by, those who have prophesied Symbian’s death because of what seemed Nokia’s inability to implement a fancy user interface can start recanting. Nokia has shown that they are capable.

We must note that the current fancy user interfaces are touchscreen based. Unfortunately, unless there is a massive change in the general direction of mobile users, the statistics till date shows that the majority of users prefer regular type phones with a physical keypad. In this field, Nokia still holds the fort.

Also read:  Emerging Markets: the stone that Microsoft rejected

I submit that Symbian is likely to remain the dominant mobile OS for a long time. Current trends suggest that Android will take the 2nd place quickly.

One of the advantages that Symbian has is what will help Android achieve this feat. Both Symbian and Android are licenced by numerous manufacturers, some of which are adding layers of services, functionality and usabilty to the underlying operatiing systems.

Already, we have multiple Android devices from HTC, Motorola, and Samsung respectively on the ground. More are on the way from Acer, Sony Ericsson, LG and others.

The other operating systems are generally mono-products – the iPhone which runs OSX is manufactured by only Apple; Blackberries are manufactured by only RIM, and Palm devices by only Palm.

The only other widely licensed mobile OS is Windows Mobile. The recently launched Windows Mobile 6.5 is a good upgrade, but leaves much to be desired. Hopefully, version 7 will bring this venerable OS up-to-speed and then we can see how things go from there.

One thing that is unarguable, however, is that exciting times are ahead in the mobile OS field. Whatever operating system you root for, the months and years ahead promise much.

Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

4 thoughts on “Battle of the Mobile Operating Systems

  • October 25, 2009 at 8:19 am
    Permalink

    I would have wanted an in-depth info as to why WinMo 6.5 does not impress you, or a link to your previous article where you explained in detail. This gives the reader a deeper insight into your assertion.

  • October 25, 2009 at 2:24 pm
    Permalink

    I think Nokia has overflogged the Symbian OS. It needs a major makeover. The GUI is too ‘bland’. While symbian may have tons of advantages, no one can deny that majority of us can do with better eye candy. May be android will do that.. But clearly Apple OSX is tops. Nokia is living of the superbness of its handset designs (rudgeness, long battery life, longevity, service availability etc). With the throw away society catching on, it will do little for their oomph in future. (My opinion). I drool for palm and windows OS any day. Having used them before now and being on my Nokia E63 for 2 months now, my mind is longing for palm and to a lesser degree, windows. if i had my way i will like to try OSX. Since i cant get legit iphone to work here, those two will do for now.

  • October 26, 2009 at 12:09 am
    Permalink

    maemo from nokia is the best OS for a mobile device. the Iphone OS doesn’t come close. all nokia needs now is better form factor.

  • November 5, 2009 at 3:21 pm
    Permalink

    I recall with nostalgia my first smartphone (Nokia 6600) that I bought in 2005. Back then it was one of d best phones available. I was attracted to it because I could do many things on it at d same time (multitasking) & also could install third party apps on it.

    Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on Symbian OS. Wins mobile & Symbian were the predominant operating systems. Then along came Blackberry. It got people talking, especially for its ability to ‘push’ emails to d device.

    When Apple introduced d iphone more than 2 years ago, the smartphone equation changed. Now all phone makers are all introducing models dat they hope will be ‘iphone killers’. They all are gravitating towards Android.

    I am also thinking about ditching my good old Symbian & go for d iphone or Android devices. Below are my views on the future of mobile OS:

    * Symbian will continue to be the dominant OS (at least in the developing countries)
    * OSX & Android will continue to lead the way in innovations
    * To stay relevant in the phone business, Symbian developers must do major upgrades to it especially on the user interface

Leave a Reply

Advertisements