A Mobile OS Needs an ‘Ecosystem’ to Succeed

Want to launch your own mobile operating system? Better have a LOT of money and connections. A successful mobile OS needs to spin plates with carriers, device manufacturers, developers and consumers. If any of the plates fall, then the entire ecosystem falls apart. ,

When I spoke with him, Derek Kerton, principal analyst for telecommunications consulting firm Kerton Group, had just finished working on a report for GigaOM Pro about the future of mobile. As one of 10 authors, he focused on the mobile OS ecosystems  like Android, iOS, Symbian and RIM, looking into the factors that drive their success, and others that will keep some at the top and displace others.

The ecosystem is the entire product. For example, Apple’s delivery of the iPad is only a small portion of the overall offering. The full product includes the complete array of software developers that exist outside of Cupertino.

As for why BlackBerry and RIM have been overtaken by Android and iOS, Kerton points out they’ve been relying on a rather old platform for quite a long time. While the 12+ year old OS has been updated, it really isn’t keeping up with the touchscreen and social nuances the new iOS and Android devices were built to handle from the start. Hopefully, RIM’s purchase of the QNX operating system will help them get there.

You need support from carriers, handset vendors, developers, consumers – all at the same time. If you miss one of those steps, that cycle of benefit starts to fall apart and stumble. For example, even though webOS was touted as a fantastic mobile OS, it failed because it couldn’t get the carriers on board.

Photo: camero cc

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