Microsoft, Samsung, Intel Adding to Crowded Mobile OS Market: Report

Mobile operating system introductions from Microsoft, Samsung, Intel and Nokia are making for a crowded marketplace that won't last, says a new report from In-Stat, which favors open-source operating systems, such as Google's Android.

Microsoft's introduction of its Windows Phone 7 Series and Samsung's rollout of its Bada platform at the Mobile World Congress 2010 show this month contributed to a crowded mobile operating systems arena, a trend one research firm says can't continue.
In a market already seeing the rapid adoption of Google's Android platform and the continued strength of Symbian's market-leading mobile OS, the addition of such offerings as Windows Phone 7, Bada and MeeGo-the new collaborative and open-source effort from Intel and Nokia-is creating a bloated space that eventually will have to shrink, according to In-Stat.
"In-Stat doesn't believe the current proliferation of mobile operating systems is sustainable," the firm states in a Feb. 23 report. "The industry cannot support more than a few platforms."
In-Stat found Google's Android mobile operating system to be the preferred OS among original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and appeared to prefer it as well, writing that open-source OS platforms are "critical to enabling the entire wireless ecosystem," and that they "reduce the costs and time to market of handset OEMs while providing service providers with a consistent platform to build applications and services upon."
While describing Microsoft's new mobile OS-which sews together calendar, e-mail and social networking information; Internet resources; and mapping software-as having compelling features, In-Stat nonetheless found it not-all-together unique.
"Time will tell if Microsoft's hyped announcement leaves a lasting impression on the industry," In-Stat wrote.
The firm was also showed halting enthusiasm toward Samsung's Bada platform, writing that it believes Samsung will "see challenges enabling Bada to propagate beyond Samsung phones," as well as toward the Intel-Nokia effort, MeeGo.
"Ironically ... the two companies see the use of the platform differently," wrote In-Stat. "Intel sees MeeGo, just as it saw Moblyn, as a software platform for anything from a smartphone to a netbook. Nokia, on the other hand, sees it as a platform for solutions above smartphones, likely as to not compete with Symbian."
In-Stat also found that "many companies view the operating systems as a platform to control the handset platform. Handset vendors are treading carefully to position themselves for this strategic shift in the landscape. In-Stat sees smartphone handset vendors stratifying around their approach to control and customization."
One of these "stratifying" approaches-which may thin the competition-is that of companies such as Apple, Palm, Samsung and Nokia, which "want to control everything from the look and feel to the OS." A second group, which includes Motorola, HTC and LG, chooses an industry-standard OS and instead puts their energies into "providing value with personalization, look and feel and additional services/applications."
The final group, wrote In-Stat, is generally smaller OEMs, which focus on cost. From there, wrote the firm, they "take whatever they can to produce the best phone at an attractive price."
The full report is available at the In-Stat Website.