Mobile phone technology is evolving daily, weekly and yearly; while the story of 2016 is not different, the major driving force behind mobile phones are the various mobile operation systems (OS).
A mobile operating system or just mobile OS, is an operating system for smartphones, tablets, personal digital assistants (PDAs), or other mobile devices.
While computers such as typical laptops are mobile, the OS usually used on them are not considered mobile ones as they were originally designed for desktop computers that historically did not have or need specific mobile features.
While many people have bounteous information about different mobile phones and their parent companies, only few know something about their operating systems.
Mobile OS milestones mirror the development of mobile phones and smartphones, and 2016 saw the release of different flagship smartphones running on different mobile OS, including the ones that made the ranks in the Google’s Year in Search 2016.
Between 1973 and 1993, mobile phones use embedded systems to control operation. In 1994 the first smartphone, the IBM Simon, released with a touchscreen, email, and personal digital assistant (PDA) features and in 1996 Palm Pilot 1000 PDA is introduced with the Palm OS mobile OS. Also in 1996, the first Windows CE handheld personal computer (PC) devices are introduced.
In 1999 Nokia released the Series 40 (S40) platform officially along with the Nokia 7110, and in 2000 Symbian became the first modern mobile OS on a smartphone with the launch of the Ericsson R380.
2001 saw the Kyocera 6035 launching as the first smartphone running on Palm OS, and in 2002, Microsoft’s first Windows CE (Pocket PC) smartphones were introduced. While BlackBerry released its first smartphone also in 2002, Nokia introduced Maemo OS on the first Internet tablet N770 in 2005.
While in 2007, Apple iPhone with iOS is introduced as an iPhone, “mobile phone” and “Internet communicator,” Google, HTC, Sony, Dell, Intel, Motorola, Samsung, LG among others teamed up to form Open Handset Alliance (OHA) the same year. This alliance gave birth to the release of Android 1.0 based on Linux kernel 1.0 with the HTC Dream as the first Android phone in 2008.
In 2009, Palm introduces webOS with the Palm Pre and Samsung announced the Bada OS with the introduction of the Samsung S8500. 2010 November, Windows OS phones are released and in January 2013, BlackBerry announced the release of BlackBerry 10 OS.
Of all the mobile OS listed in the foregoing, only a few have survived the test of time of technological advancement. While some mobile OS that were relevant in years past are obsolete today and some are managing to cope with the trend, others are strong and running, even in the years to come.
Of these, while the Apple iOS and the Android OS are up there in the skies, the BlackBerry OS uncharacteristically committed suicide especially in 2016, with the acclaimed phone maker announcing it will stop making its own phone to start making security platform for enterprises and that China’s TCL will start making and selling its smartphones. It is likely that the new BlackBerry flagships that will launch, will run on Android OS.
While the Windows Mobile OS is struggling for importance, S40 and Symbian went into extinction, especially after Microsoft acquired the mobile segment of Nokia’s business, producing Windows branded Nokia phones that couldn’t capture the mobile phone market. Although, rumours has it that new Nokia smartphones running on the Android OS are set to be launched in 2017.
The Mobile OS that will make much impact in mobile phones technology in the year to come will be the ever evolving Apple iOS and the Android OS by Google.
It remains to be seen if other mobile OS would be able to compete with Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android or if there would be the development of a brand new mobile OS in the year to come to kick out Apple’s iOS and/or Google’s Android.