Over the past two years every time a group of mobile developers gathered in the room, the topic of conversation often veered to fragmentation. Predominantly referring to the operating systems rather than the hardware or network itself, most mobile developers (and even handset manufacturers) have eventually resigned themselves to the fact they have to make a choice amongst the big three – iOS, Android and Blackberry (though this could be replaced by Windows 7 if Gartner is correct).
What does this mean for the mobile ecosystem itself? While consumers have enjoyed the “choice” of multiple operating systems each offering a unique flavor from which to choose, it has meant that 2011 has been a year of consolidation within the mobile industry as “rival” operating systems fall by the wayside (Symbian, WebOS, MeeGO).
Ed Hansberry of InformationWeek highlighted this for me by writing about how just last year, we saw seven potential candidates when it comes to mobile operating systems (iOS, Android, MeeGO, WebOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Symbian) and today there are just four (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows 7).
But does this mean that developer conversations need a new topic? With the recent news that both Amazon’s upcoming Kindle Tablet and China’s Baidu will be running operating systems based on Android, there are likely to be more versions and derivatives of Android than you can shake a smartphone at.
Bloggers and mobile pundits can once again sleep easy at night!