Will Android’s and iOS duopoly ever be broken?

Today, as you know, there are only two operating systems to choose from for those who get a new smartphone: Android and iOS. Will Google’s and Apple’s duopoly in the global smartphone market ever be broken?

At present there are no signs of that. The market does not have room for another operating system. Even if an attempt were to be made, it is extremely difficult to succeed. It is unlikely that a technology company would release a system that can directly compete with Android and iOS in design and functionality, as these platforms have matured and developed for over ten years.

Windows Phone

If an attractive Olympics should turn up, this is not enough, because a rich ecosystem of developers and manufacturers around is needed. The ecosystem is the biggest challenge and at least as important a part as the operating system itself. In addition, to the extent that the company behind the platform can not release attractive mobiles that run the system, like Apple, manufacturers need to be convinced.

Not even Microsoft, one of the technology’s most ancient and powerful giants, could create a successful third alternative – despite previous experience in the industry through Windows Mobile. Their Windows Phone had a weak range of apps, even after several years. Microsoft had a hard time getting developers to jump on the bandwagon.

The apps that were released were also significantly worse than the clients for iOS and Android. They received fewer updates and fell behind in terms of functionality. Why would developers put resources on apps for a system relatively few use?

Firefox OS

Today, people expect to be able to install all major apps and services. It is enough that a single important app is missing, for example BankID in Sweden, for the platform to be completely uninteresting to most people. Although many services can be used via web apps, competent clients are also needed for all major streaming and entertainment services.

In addition, apps for Google services are very important for success. Google had no interest at all in developing apps for competitor Windows Phone. Despite the gigantic challenge, there has been no lack of ambition to create a third alternative.

Ubuntu Touch

As mentioned, Microsoft tried with Windows Phone, but gave up and adopted Android for mobile devices (most recently Surface Duo 2). Palm WebOS was in 2009 an early attempt to challenge Android and iOS. The system was in many ways ahead of its time, with sweeping gestures and an intuitive interface, but WebOS did not become a hit for phones. WebOS was sold to LG in 2013 and is now mostly used in TVs.

Blackberry failed with BlackBerry 10. Mozilla’s attempt with Firefox OS was short-lived, as was Ubuntu Touch. Tizen for mobiles was on the go for a while, Samsung even released a Tizen phone in 2014, but it also ebbed into nothing. Huawei even said that Tizen was doomed to fail.

Samsung’s first Tizen phone

Even if the Chinese giants would someday join forces and create their own platform that challenges Android, it is doubtful that the system could have struck globally. Interest in Huawei “HarmonyOS” is, to say the least, cool. Samsung is probably the company that in theory would have the greatest chance of success, thanks to its size and popularity, its strong brand and the ability to create both hardware and software.

Sooner or later, there will probably be a paradigm shift in the market, perhaps through VR, AI or augmented reality and completely new form factors. Then, but probably only then, a new platform could gain a foothold. Until then, it will be Android and iOS and Google and Apple that apply to the whole penny.


Source: Swedroid by swedroid.se.

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