New Mobile Operating Systems Look to Disrupt iOS and Android

Apple and Google dominate the smartphone software market with a combined 87 percent control, but new competitors hope to chip away at this duopoly. New entrants including Tizen, the Mozilla Foundation and Ubuntu hope that introducing competing operating systems would help convince consumers to purchase products through alternatives to the Google or Apple stores.

The market is dominated by the Apple iPhone and devices running Google’s Android, while Microsoft and RIM hope to pick up the remaining market with Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10, respectively.

“New entrants include Tizen, a platform that’s supported primarily by Samsung and Intel; Firefox OS, created by the Mozilla Foundation, which makes the Firefox Web browser; and a version of the free, open-source Ubuntu Linux operating system designed for smartphones,” reports Technology Review. “There are also several efforts under way to revive Hewlett-Packard’s critically acclaimed webOS.”

Controlling software allows Apple and Google to lock users into an ecosystem of apps, providing the companies not only with hardware sales, but software revenue as well. Offering alternative software options gives users more choice, especially considering some are free.

Many of the new competitors rely on HTML5, which could help developers make apps that function on multiple software. This would help create large numbers of apps on the new software.

The Mozilla phone will likely cost around $100, which is in line with low end Android phones and lower than most iPhone models. The low price point should help Mozilla gain a presence around the world, especially in places like Brazil where Telefonica has a strong presence. Ubuntu also wants to target the lower end of the global smartphone market and hopes to control 10 percent of the global market by 2016.

“Even with a well-stocked app larder, underdog operating systems won’t find it easy to grab major market share,” notes the article. “Still, there’s always an opportunity in a market growing so rapidly. While less than half of the world had a smartphone in 2012, IHS iSuppli expects 56 percent of cellphone users to be swiping and tapping on smartphones by the end of this year.”

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