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The long walk of the humble Smartphone.

January 12, 2009

With Palm’s recent announcement at CES of their new Palm Pre mobile incorporating their equally new mobile software platform WebOS, one wonders if there is room for yet another Smartphone operating system in the market today.

Consider what is happening to the humble mobile today as it is a device that is now replacing traditional PC mobile computing devices and even starting to head into mainstream PC desktop markets. In fact, Nokia last year was the biggest computer manufacturer in 2008. Whilst this seems a bit far fetched, remember that there are now over 4 billion mobile subscribers on the planet and the percentage of this as Smartphones is steadily increasing.

I’ve created a chart of the top 8 device manufacturers that have the greatest individual market shares.

image For details of what is and isn’t included in these numbers head over to Tomi Ahonen’s blog for the details

This chart shows how three mobile device manufacturers, Nokia, Apple & RIM (well 4 if you include Dell), each with their own mobile operating systems, are encroaching in on the traditional mainstream desktop players.

Mobile operating systems should be consolidating as the traditional operating systems did in the early PC days , but they are fighting the trend and are steadily increasing in number as new and old players throw their platforms into the mix, creating a highly competitive environment that is making it very hard for mobile developers to keep up with the fragmented market. This means applications for these Smartphones become operating system specific and not available across all devices.

Only two things will break this trend, one is consolidation will occur and the other is Cloud Computing or services and applications delivered over the wire versus from the device, will bring these applications and services to all Smartphone devices.


Today Smartphone devices are smashing the desktop chains knowledge workers have been slaved to for some time. Whilst these devices will not be completely replacing desktops for some time, they are empowering people to work where ever they want and when ever they want to.

IT departments need to start looking at mobile devices in the same way they do their existing PC fleets. One important factor is the overall integration planning in how these devices are complimenting and extending existing desktop systems/services.

As for backing a particular mobile operating system, that comes down to what level of integration you want your devices to have within your enterprise. This is one of the benefits that Cloud Computing can bring companies in utilising both traditional desktop and mobile devices more effectively to increase productivity and efficiency.

 Posted By Shane Williamson

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