Mobile operating systems. My research continues.

Posted on 01 July 2008, Last updated on 27 June 2008 by

Thanks to everyone that replied to my cry for help on mobile operating systems. I’m trying to take a developers view on the mobile platform market and work out why a developer might choose a particular OS or platform. Coming from an X86 world myself, I find it difficult to understand how Moblin, one of the first X86-only mobile operating systems, might fit into the big, carrier-influenced, ARM-focused, 100million-device-per-year world of converged mobile devices.

Since my article, Nokia announced that Symbian and related projects will be pooled and gradually turned into open-source operation. This article at GigaOm has some good thoughts. Given that they have 65% of the global market it’s obviously a significant move and I’ll be watching closely to see what happens. In the meantime, here’s a list I created of the choices that are in the market. The top 4 basically take the whole of the 100million+ per year smartphone market with LiMo carrying most of the rest. The most shocking thing is the list of Linux options. What on earth are they thinking? Open Source Linux appears to translate to a lack of focus and if I was a commercial development house right now i’d be looking to the top 4. LiMo appears to have some traction with good carrier support and penetration. Android on OHA has a lot of backing and media attention and Moblin has a number of distribution deals although at the moment, these are non-voice netbook distribution deals. It remains to be seen if the X86-focused Intel can stimulate smaller-screen distribution and make the conversion to being a voice platform when their smartphone-focused Morestown cpu comes into play in 2010.

So here’s the list of platforms, systems and methods i’ve put together. i’f i’ve missed one, please let me know!

Top 4 – 95% penetration of mobile device (*1) market.

  • Symbian (65%)
  • Windows Mobile (13%)
  • Blackberry (10%)
  • iPhone/ OS-x (7%)

Linux flavours

  • LiMo (now includes LiPS)
  • Android – OHA
  • Moblin – Linux+Gnome+Hildon
  • Meamo – Nokia. Linux+Gnome (GtK+, Gstreamer, Matchbox, Hildon)
  • Mobilinux – MontaVista Linux
  • Acces Linux Platform (LiMo compliant?)
  • OpenMoko – Linux+Gnome
  • TuxPhone
  • Qtopia


  • Garnet (Palm, Access)

High-level languages, kits and methods:

  • Ajax
  • j2me
  • Adobe air
  • Silverlight
  • Flash
  • Flex

(*1) % Figures from Canalys

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