The number of smartphones shipped with open source operating systems (OS) will increase from 106 million this year to 223 million by 2014, according to a new report from telecom consultants, Juniper Research.
The research found that operating systems and the applications are playing an increasingly important role in the differentiation of new smartphones and a key factor in the choice of which handset to choose from by users.
The last three years has seen a revolution in the OS market with market leader Symbian moving to open source and Apple leading the way in the distribution of Applications through their innovative, but now widely copied, App Store approach. The move to open-source OS has also encouraged developers to design new and attractive applications and with over 60% of the OS market is now based on open-source, and a sizeable pool of software design talent out there, there is a massive opportunity for innovation.
However, the real key is not whether the OS is open source but whether it is easy for a developer to design an application and make money from that effort, stated Juniper. The combined changes of Apple’s open route to the market and LiMo, OHA and Symbian’s open-source OS approach have generated a tidal wave-like effect which even the economic downturn has been unable to reverse.
There is a clear warning for device manufacturers; the choice of OS is now critical and market share will, to a large extent, follow application development. The unexpected side effect however will be a shift in the balance of power towards application developers and end users – they will begin to play the tune!