Smartphone OS Market About to Become More Volatile - InformationWeek

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6/9/2008
05:40 AM
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Smartphone OS Market About to Become More Volatile

From its early days, Linux was positioned as nice fit with mobile devices. The operating system has not had much success in that market to date, but that may soon change and create havoc in the smartphone space.

From its early days, Linux was positioned as nice fit with mobile devices. The operating system has not had much success in that market to date, but that may soon change and create havoc in the smartphone space.To date, the battle for smartphone operating systems dominance has not taken many twists and turns. Symbian has been the main supplier with Microsoft making a push every once in a while and Palm supporters trying to figure out what to do next as the market has morphed. Linux is gaining more interest because of the cooperation of two groups, the LiMo Foundation and the Open Handset Alliance. Mainly because those initiatives work, ABI Research predicts that Linux will garner 23% of the smartphone OS by 2013.

LiMo and Open Handset Alliance have garnered support from some significant players. Verizon has thrown its noteworthy support in that direction and Google has made it the foundation for its Android project. Consequently, a growing number of third party developers are taking a closer look at it. In addition to that work, open source projects, such as Maemo, are gaining interest.

As a result, the smartphone market is in the midst of a dramatic restructuring. Not only are Linux alternatives arriving, but also companies, such as Apple, have become prime players in the handset market. Add in the well established base of Blackberry customers, and the end result is a bevy of choice for busy executives.

This change represents good news/bad news for small and medium enterprises. On the plus side, these companies now have many more options, so it becomes more likely that they will be able to outfit their executives with suitable mobile devices. The choices also mean that executives probably will be working with more than one phone, which increases the complexity of support issues. Also, the volatility could mean that a sound choice today may be pass tomorrow.

Consequently, small and medium businesses need to be cautious. They need to establish corporate standards for smartphones but have to be flexible enough so the policies can change as the market continues to evolve.

What smartphone(s) does your company rely on now? When was the last time that you looked for another model? How easy or difficult would it be for you to make a switch?

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