Since the launch of the first generation Apple iPhone, the mobile industry has transformed beyond recognition. However despite more mainstream users downloading content, affordable smartphones and overwhelming industry support, are there clear horizons ahead?
For developers, the answer is not really. Faced with an OS ecosystem that is no longer fragmented as much as splintered, increasingly complicated certification processes that are often unique to each store and a new flagship handset being launched on an almost weekly basis, bringing content to market is a daunting task.
The problem intensifies when you consider applications should ideally span not only phones, but MIDs, UMPCs, cars (telematics), and other embedded and wearable computing devices. Pervasive is the new mobile. A single platform that spans all “Screens of Life” is the ideal. But how can developers truly innovate with such a wide variety of platforms for which to cater their “mainstream” application.
Even so it is unlikely that the industry will see an end to this diversity in the near future. Mobile operators and handset manufacturers both see the mobile operating system as a unique selling point and have made it clear that they do not want a repeat of the Wintel paradigm.
With new operating systems and application stores being launched on an almost weekly basis, Bada and Else Institution being two recent examples, this issue of too much choice is unlikely to dissipate any time soon. But I expect OS and application store consolidation to be a clear theme this time next year.