In Their Own Words: The Four Dark Horses for the Third Major Mobile OS Speak, Part II

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    This is the second of a two-part virtual roundtable looking at lesser-known candidates vying to become the third major mobile operating system. The big two always will be Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. The third player is vital both because it will get a decent share of a huge business and its de facto role as a foil between the two leaders.

    Observers more or less agree that the leading candidates for this vital third spot are BlackBerry and Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Four other candidates that get less attention shouldn’t be dismissed, however. They are Tizen, the mobile versions of Ubuntu, Jolla Mobile’s Sailfish and Mozilla’s Firefox OS.

    IT Business Edge, in order to provide deeper background on these four lesser-known candidates, has put together a virtual roundtable, which will be posted in two parts. The first two questions were posted on March 26 and the last two are here. The responses were edited for clarity and length. Mozilla did not provide the name of a spokesperson.

    IT Business Edge: Why do you think it will win?

    Brian Warner, Tizen operations manager, The Linux Foundation: The mobile space is not a zero sum game with a clear winner; otherwise, there wouldn’t be conversations about second or third players.

    We believe that Tizen will do well over time because it is a collaborative development effort that decentralizes the impact of any one party in the ecosystem. Consumers will benefit as more carriers, silicon manufacturers and OEMs commit to the effort, either through Tizen code development or the Tizen Association. Ultimately this should result in richer devices and more diversification, because manufacturers can build from an existing and neutral code base while focusing on value-add instead.

    Stefano Mosconi, chief technology officer of Jolla: All in all, Sailfish will bring innovation in a stagnating market and will help mobile manufacturers to stay on the leading edge of the mobile OS development. As a smaller company, we can introduce more innovation in a shorter amount of time than anyone in the market. This is our competitive advantage.

    One great strength for the Sailfish model is its inclusivity and openness for partners. They can customize their UI to create truly unique and differentiating products.

    The Sailfish user interface has been designed with the most recent consumer needs in mind. Users are able to multitask instantly between applications. Even more, users are able to interact with the running applications directly on the home view: They can end a call or pause a song without entering the application. This multitasking feature brings usability and speed-of-use to a totally new level.

    The UI also features other innovations. These include the Pulley Menu, enabling fast and effortless interaction; at-a-glance peeks at status information; and effortless personalization of the device to match the user’s style and mood.

    Richard Collins, product manager at Canonical: There’s already an established community of people, momentum and affinity behind Ubuntu. Ubuntu is also a highly secure OS, which enterprises, financial companies and government organisations trust in more than any other OS. The phone and tablet share those same security benefits, meaning that consumers and businesses alike can be confident with their devices. Since the launches of both the developer preview builds, we’ve had excellent feedback and traction with mobile developers and see real opportunities with OEMs seeking a more cost-effective alternative OS and who want a better basis for differentiation.

    Firefox: We are primarily targeting a different set of consumers to expand the smartphone market and attract people who might otherwise opt for feature phones, because Firefox OS provides a faster, better experience on the same hardware compared with other OSes. There are more than 8 million HTML5 developers that wouldn’t need to learn any new code to develop for Firefox OS, lowering the barrier to entry for smaller, local content developers, businesses, educators and government organizations. HTML5 is especially useful for developers to leverage their apps across multiple platforms in future.

    IT Business Edge: What other comments would you like to add for an overview story about the OS?

    Warner: One of the major things we’ve seen is that Tizen is evolving rapidly for application developers. Tizen 1.0 introduced the HTML5 focus for application developers, Tizen 2.0 brought an API for native applications and Tizen 2.1 is projected to bring a number of new features later this spring. 

    Mosconi: The current market is led by what we call the “spec race,” which is basically “who has it bigger has it better.” Sailfish OS aims to bring back the focus on what is important for the user: a simple but not stupid UI that still has the power of Linux underneath.

    Ubuntu: Google is now monetising a full range of Android services on which OEMs and operators are seeing very little revenue share (less than $1 per year per user on average). Unlike Google, Canonical is absolutely committed to open and transparent development. Android is an OS built to support integration for Google services, which compete with mobile operators services. Ubuntu is the most open platform in the industry — Android is not open and this is causing complaints from OEMs.

    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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