OMG! The same old war on a different turf


This is a guest article by our mobile expert Sriram V. IyerI used to think (and it was actually true) that the operating systems in the mobile phones were totally different from those on the desktops, and it was a totally different battle played out there.

For e.g., Symbian was a dominant operating system, with phone manufacturers having their own proprietary operating systems too. Apps were never in users’ mind even 5 years ago. So, the issues of compatible apps, app-store, true multi-tasking etc. were never in vogue. Also, the hardware including the processors in the phone, and networking chips (GSM/GPRS/CDMA) were not so demanding. Only James Bond had a camera in his cellphone. Then, there was RIM with focus on email/business users and Windows CE phones, though they were quite rare to be spotted. These were quite different from the OS’ that were running on desktops. Two reasons:

  1. Mobile Phones were not capable enough to run desktop/laptop heavy OS’
  2. Not much computing was required on the phone (may be, a side effect of (1))

However, a few years passed, and it struck me few days ago, that it is AGAIN the battle of the desktop OS being played again in the mobile phone space.

It all started with iPhone. I was so surprised to read that Apple had actually customized their Mac OS X for use in their iPhone. They did a terrific with the iPhone thus dispelling my (and many others’) performance anxiety of the iOS on iPhone. It is still a wonder on why what took so long to add true multi-tasking to the OS though…

Linux was another big candidate for phone OS’. It was free and it could be easily customized to the required application. It was quite a mammoth, and the first few Linux phones were notorious for their speed, rather the lack of it. Soon, Android / Meego were launched. Even Palm Pre is a heavy duty Linux underneath.

The moment of truth actually came when I saw the Windows 8 preview! It looked too close to Windows Phone 7!

Thanks to the increasing capabilities of phones, and the convergence of requirements of users to extend their computing ( business and entertainment) from their computers to their mobile devices, the turf of desktop operating systems is now extended to the mobile device!

It is difficult to argue against the idea that the tablet is almost a laptop computer. The screen sizes are comparable (especially to the compact laptops), computing power is matched.

Will we see innovative features due to the merging of domains on both mobile and desktop computing? Will we see increased productivity? Will software companies be able to streamline their engineering to having same builds for desktops and mobiles? App stores for desktops / laptops? (oops Apple already did that!) Touch screens for all computers? What is the scope of innovation or a new player in this market?

A lot of questions here… But the answer is clear – The future is going to be very interesting!

Guest Column by Sriram V Iyer, Co- Founder, United Mobile Apps

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