updated 12:00 pm EST, Tue February 12, 2008
Vodafone on Mobile OS Biz
The market for mobile operating systems must shrink if the cellphone industry is going to expand, Vodafone chief Arun Sarin said today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The carrier head notes that the sheer number of operating systems available for phones is preventing many developers from creating programs that would genuinely help users. Many teams are forced to choose just a handful of operating systems to write for when there are as many as 30 to 40 different platforms to choose from. A much smaller market of between three to five operating systems "would be better" and help focus efforts, according to Sarin.
""Note, I didn't say one!" he added, alluding to Microsoft's Windows monopoly in the computer business.
The call for a reduced mobile OS market came in part due to the impact of the iPhone. While it added to the proliferation of mobile operating systems, the handset "raised the bar" for what was possible with a user interface, Sarun said, underscoring the importance of dedicated programming. Apple's device has so far been closed off to developers but should receive a software development kit (SDK) this month that permits third-party software.
The news comes at the same time as prototypes running Android have appeared at the Mobile World Congress, adding another mobile operating system to the equation. Most of the current cellphone OS market is dominated by Symbian on Nokia and Sony-Ericsson handsets but also includes the BlackBerry OS, PalmOS, Windows Mobile, and Linux variants such as Google Android or Motorola's MOTOMAGX. Many handset designers also frequently develop very specialized operating systems.