About five years ago companies like Sun and Oracle were declaring that the age of the Open Source desktop was just around the corner and that the days of both Microsoft and Apple were numbered. Then last year, Linux based netbooks were supposed to make Open Source software the leader in portable computing as the easy to use devices finally popularized the Linux desktop with consumers.
Neither of those revolutions exactly came to pass…no one expects Open Source software to be a serious contender on desktop or notebook computers anytime soon. However Open Source has quietly come to dominate another vital area of mobile computing…phones. Leading that charge is not Linux or some exotic home brew OS, but Symbian. People tend to forget that due to the Symbian Foundation, Nokia’s OS of choice is Open Source…and expected to double it’s penetration over the next few years.
According to Digitimes, handsets that run some flavor of Symbian will account for 180 million shipments by 2014, (currently 87 million Symbian handsets ship a year). Once the burgeoning Android handset market and LiMo shipments are added to that, total open source handset shipments will far surpass 220 million by 2014. Open Source handsets also drive more developers into Open Source as users need more and better applications for their shiny phones.
Revolutionary? This is what Digitimes has to say….
While the developments by the LiMo Foundation, OHA and the Symbian foundation may suggest that the entire market is migrating towards open source OS, Apple’s hugely popular iPhone product is in fact based on a proprietary operating system. Research in Motion (RIM), Microsoft and Palm also utilize proprietary operating systems in their respective smartphone products. However, with over 60% of the smartphone market now using an open source OS, there has still been a significant shift in position from proprietary to open source.
If Android continues to explode as it is forecast to do in 2010 behind HTC and Motorola, then between it and Symbian we could see that 60 percent increase slowly over the next couple years until Open Source finds itself in a truly dominant position in telephony. Lower license fees due to Open Source software could result in lower prices for consumers…now THAT would be a revolution.