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The tipping point for mobile operating systems

April 7, 2009

A key decider in a mobile operating system manufacturer’s battle for market share, is how and if, they are able to migrate outside of the traditional mobile phone market into other devices. It looks like Android is about to make the dash into other household appliances according to this article in the New York Times.

This is important for mobile operating system manufactures, as it increases their developer pool into non traditional mobile application areas that then expands the mobile operating system ecosystem. Mobile operating systems can be utilised in many different areas other than mobile phones such as vehicles, audio visual equipment, office equipment, vending machines, security systems, home automation and even traditional white-good appliances.

Developing a ubiquitous Application Programme Interface (API) has been tried by many before, but transcending into the different device types is a difficult journey. Microsoft has attempted to some degree to spread their Windows API into mobile and other household devices such as personal data appliances (PDAs), remote controls and media servers, but they always ended up having to change the API set considerably making development difficult for developers to port their code from one platform operating system to another.

Google’s Android operating system may become a platform nirvana if it can maintain that API set across multiple device types. Microsoft’s Windows operating environment comes with the legacy of an untethered world when it was first created. Android, however does not, as it was conceived in a connected and wireless world, making it more adaptive of this type of environment and is a good example of how a mobile operating system is cloud computing aware and takes advantage of this highly popular infrastructure.

The road to API nirvana is fraught with danger if core capabilities are not included, such as a well thought out product roadmap, a rigorous support system, a great usability experience and a sound development cost model.

It will be interesting to see where Android appears in next and if they keep a pure and open API environment.

Posted By Shane Williamson

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