Running around the wheelhouse

Its going to be an interesting year in mobile.

The past few years Apple’s iOS and Googles Android mobile platforms have slowly and surely dominated the mobile market and as comScore reports, continues to leave other platforms in the dust as iOS and Android become a duopoly.

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It can’t be denied that the iOS and Android are both fantastic platforms but IMO one of the reasons why people find it difficult to change phones is because of  ‘ecosystem’. Ecosystem is the much bandied around buzzword of 2012, and recently it became something of a pet peeve of mine whenever I come across the term.  It’s become a reason for tech journalists to put down other platforms (mobile or otherwise) and its started to irk me because a lot of good laptops or phones are put down because of this one word catchphrase.

These ecosystems or walled gardens lock people into their platforms because most popular apps are developed for them and if developers want their apps used they have to join in too. It becomes a cycle where there aren’t a lot of users for a certain device (a Blackberry phone for example) because it lacks apps; the device lacks apps because the developers don’t make apps for that device because there aren’t a lot of users.

Except, this year things might change with the entry of not just one but four new mobile OS, a lot of tech journalists are pessimistic with the entry of these new OSes because they consider the mobile market ‘crowded’ but I don’t see how its any crowded with only two platforms casting a long shadow on everything related to smartphones. Yes, windows phones are trying their hardest to break into that two horse race, and Blackberry is throwing everything into their new BB10. So all in all, the market isn’t actually crowded and does have room for one or, hell, maybe even three more.

These  four new mobileOS hopes to at least make a dent into iOS and Android’s duopoly.

FirefoxOS

Mozilla has and always will stand for the Open Web and fighting any kind of monopoly or duopoly that limit people’s choices. It’s something I’ve come to really love about Mozilla. FirefoxOS is Mozilla’s answer to the overwhelming closed ecosystems of both Apple and Google.

Since the biggest platform is still the internet Mozilla is bringing the Open Web to mobile. This, among other things is why Mozilla is a big supporter of HTML 5.

SailfishOS

After Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop burning platform memo Elop pivoted Nokia away from its bid in making its own Mobile OS (Meego Harmattan) and straight into Microsoft Windows phones, whether that’s a good move for Nokia or not is something time will tell but as a recent Nokia N9 user I will say it was a pity they jumped from Harmattan to Windows.

(I honestly enjoy using Nokia’s Swipe UI together with the Harmattan’s multitasking abilities. Multitasking abilities that remind me a lot of webOS.)

A lot of Nokia engineers were not happy with the move and also jumped ship, this time away from the company and into Jolla and since that time they’ve been spinning Meego Harmattan into its newest iteration: SailfishOS. I’m not really a techie so I can’t go into details but only know that Meego Harmattan itself is based on Mer. Since the Swipe UI belongs to Nokia, Jolla developed the ‘Pulley system’, instead of swiping from the side, users will ‘pull down or up from one edge to another.

It looks very, very beautiful although I’m still partial to the Swipe UI, I think I could come around to liking the Pulley system too.

Tizen

We come to an OS I’m least familiar about.

According to wikipedia: Tizen’s goal is very similar to FirefoxOS: an open ecosystem for the open Web. Unlike all the other upcoming OS, Tizen actually has one big advantage: Samsung. The giant tech company announced it will be using Tizen for a number of their smartphones.

 

Ubuntu for Phones

The newest entry into the game! And most likely will be launching its first phones in 2014. One of the biggest things Ubuntu has going for it is that Ubuntu can be used from the desktop, to the TV and finally to the phones. I can’t say a lot about it yet except that its very gesture heavy and I’m loving the look.

 

Open WebOS

Now, this is where things started it all for me — my interest for different OS other than an Android or iOS. I might give the impression I don’t like the two platforms but I do. Its just that after a while I found both limiting. webOS has a pretty fascinating, if tragic history. HP’s former CEO Apotheoker killed the HP Touchpad six months after the release, and with it Palm’s webOS, fortunately the few but dedicated developer community kept it alive long enough for HP’s new CEO to bring it out and relaunch as Open webOS.

One of the things I love about using webOS is the multitasking, I love how fantastic the multitasking is. Its limited in a number of ways but its very very  freeing in others.

webOS Ports managed to port Open webOS to a Galaxy Nexus and it was my first time I’ve seen it and it really fascinated me enough to help me embark in finding other mobile OS. But back to Open webOS, I think this one has a lot of needles to thread before we ever see it as a fully functional mobileOS but I’m looking forward to that day.

So those are the new entrants to the mobile race and after my forage into the wilderness I actually came out of it very much platform agnostic. I realize that I love the idea of playing around with a lot of different platforms without getting locked in.

I love choice, I love that this will push innovation forward, and to paraphrase a familiar quote:

I, for one, welcome  all our new mobile OS wall breakers.

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