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OS Life Cyles - Phones - Nairaland

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OS Life Cyles by Chikago(m): 6:16pm On Oct 05, 2013
Regular listeners to the 361 Degrees podcast will have heard many times of Rafe's
legendary 'six year rule', when referring to
smartphone platforms and ecosystems.
With Blackberry seemingly imploding
before our eyes, with Nokia having been
snapped up recently by Microsoft and with Symbian increasingly being forgotten in the marketplace, I thought it worth both
expanding on Rafe's rule of thumb and also
charting it graphically. A mosquito lives
for a week, a hamster for a year or two,
smartphone operating systems about six or
seven years, and (happily) human beings about 70 to 80 years. Life and death, all in
1000 words? It can only be an All About
(sites) editorial.... In the grand tradition of 'a picture is worth
a thousand words', and please forgive me
for minor inaccuracies in the axes
(especially the 'y' axis), here's a rough
overview of the sales in each of the seven
smartphone software platforms of the last decade or so. Note that the dotted line is
'now' (i.e. September 2013, as I write this)
and that everything beyond this is, of
course, pure conjecture. But hopefully
you'll spot the shape of each of the curves
and get the point: Now, legions of readers will be shouting
that iOS, Android and (yes) Windows Phone
won't be dying away by 2018, but remember
that four years is an eternity in the mobile
world - four years ago, Android was
nowhere and the (plastic) iPhone's camera had only just acquired auto-focus. In four
years time, maybe we'll be into another
new phase of personal mobile computing -
wearables, smarter, smaller, voice-aware
PDAs (see the 'future' segment from this show, from 2011, for example) - who knows? The big take away from the chart above is,
of course, that all operating systems and
ecosystems rise and fall. Of the clutch that
heralded in the smartphone era, Symbian's S60 interface was massively dominant, with over 60% of the market at one point.
Symbian's UIQ and Series 80 interfaces were
dropped, Palm OS never really made the
transition from PDA to smartphone as
successfully as it perhaps should have done,
while Microsoft's Windows Mobile was never able to fully shake the feeling that it was a
stylus-centric PDA with phone features
added in as an afterthought. Meanwhile,
S60 sold by the many tens of millions per
quarter by pretending to just be a 'phone', a
trend that now sees the smartphone as ubiquitous in 2013 and outselling low end
'feature' phones. The capacitive touch-driven iPhone's much
celebrated arrival in 2007 was a bit of a slow
burn in terms of worldwide sales and it
took a couple of years for Apple to catch up
with the rest of the smartphone world in
terms of basic functions, but iOS was really motoring by 2010 and the iPhone 4. Android
also took a couple of years to get going, but
was finally able to combine iOS's capacitive
touch with a fully cloud-aware operating system , and the rest is history. Windows Phone, Microsoft's reinvention of
the smartphone, tried to learn lessons from
the iPhone and iOS (capacitive touch,
superlative UI response, normob-friendly
pseudo-multitasking, anything tricky - like
a file system - hidden away from the user) and from Android (customisable start
screen) while integrating the Internet even
further into its core, with the
aforementioned file system effectively
manifesting in the cloud as SkyDrive. But each of these operating systems is (or
was) a product of its era. Symbian, for
example, is much derided for its lacklustre web browser and the way connectivity isn't as seamless as on other platforms. But
Symbian was created in 1998, when the
standard way to get online was via packet-
switched data on GSM and, even when GPRS
came along, there were big financial issues
in going online at all - hence all the 'go online?' prompts and checks. And
remember that when Symbian Web first
appeared it was revolutionary, being the
first Webkit-based browser to run in a
phone form factor - at a time when the
iPhone was still a gleam in Steve Jobs' eye. iOS (née iPhone OS) and Android were part
of the brave new world of smartphones, of
course, with connectivity baked in
seamlessly, with flexible full-screen touch
interfaces and serious computing and
graphical power available for ambitious gaming and the ability to deal with
mainstream web sites , which were getting more and more bloated, doubling and
trebling in byte size. But will we look back
on iOS and Android in four or five years
time, explaining to our kids why iPhones
and Galaxys used to be big sellers because
they were well suited to mobile life in this early part of the decade, but that they were
ultimately too restrictive for the next big
wave of personal mobile computing? Every smartphone OS has a peak, above -
everything in life undergoes change. We're
born, we grow up, mature and finally grow
old and die, and the same is roughly true of
software. After all, modern operating
systems are almost as complex as a human body and subject to similar entropy and
wear and tear (on their code). In that light, it's no surprise to note the
news from this week that Blackberry's long
run is coming to an end - it, like Symbian,
had survived well beyond Rafe's 'six years',
but in each case it was with a certain
number of reinventions and writhings towards the end. Blackberry had evolved
into a smartphone platform after years as
just a heavily message-centric device, but
its reinvention (OS 10) came a couple of
years too late. As it is, there was a certain window of
opportunity, between 2008-2010, for a
company to take lessons for the 'brave new
smartphone world' and produce mass
market products for the 90% of people who
don't want or (more usually) can't afford an Apple iPhone. Windows Phone sneaked in at the very end
of this window, in late 2010, and has been
playing catch-up ever since, despite some
innovative UI ideas and often some
excellent hardware. The delayed start to
Windows Phone's life cycle does perhaps mean that it's more future proof than iOS
and Android and that its sales peak is still
somewhere in the future, as shown in the
chart. Maybe. Blackberry, launching products based on its
new OS 10 at the start of 2013, was a good
two years behind the competition in this
touchscreen slab form factor and, with its
traditional QWERTY candybars becoming
an ever more niche form factor, was always facing a nearly impossible task. That it
failed isn't a reflection on the technical
merits of OS 10, but more on the timing of
its very existence. I've deliberately talked in general terms
above, in line with the diagrammatic
nature of the chart, and I've also happily
mashed together devices in with platforms
and ecosystems, but hopefully the broad
brush strokes ring true to you. Quoting from no less than the Old Testament : "For everything there is a season". Blackberry's
is now over, so is that of Symbian, Palm OS
and Windows Mobile, leaving just three
current mainstream smartphone operating
systems. The really exciting thought is 'Where do we
go next?' What will be in our pockets, on our
wrists, mounted above our eyeline (etc) in
2018? Comments welcome!
Re: OS Life Cyles by indrija: 8:19pm On Oct 05, 2013
nice writeup...but steve jobs saw 50years into the future...IOS is here to stay
Re: OS Life Cyles by Chikago(m): 10:24am On Oct 07, 2013
nice writeup...but steve jobs saw 50years into the future...IOS is here to stay[/quote]

You sure....? Cos the CONSTANT thing with us humans and our world is CHANGE.

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