The smartphone mobile operating systems war: a who's who of the top contenders

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The Independent Tech

Mobile phone makers are going head to head in the battle to win consumers with mobile phone operating systems.

The smartphone mobile operating system (OS) market has changed significantly during the past few years with a constant flow of new contenders entering the market. The mainstream emergence of open platform operating systems is starting to shake up the industry.

Some smartphone handset makers have adopted these platforms with open arms while other manufactures are hesitant to leave their phones' operating systems open to the prying hands of outside developers.

"Open platforms have been a hot topic in 2009," explained market researcher Gartner in a November 12 report. "At first they appear to spell an end to market fragmentation, but when manufacturers adopt a standard software platform, they risk losing the ability to differentiate themselves."

"As a result, individual open platforms will fragment as manufacturers strive to compete. Android already demonstrates this trend: individual manufacturers have deployed their own user interfaces such as HTC Sense and some like Motorola's Motoblur, go deep into the part of the operating systems (OS) that manages contact information."

Top five smartphone mobile operating systems:

Symbian
Approximate market share in Q2 2009: 50.3%*
Approximate market share in 2012: 39%*
First commercially available phone based on OS: Ericsson R380 (released in 2000)
Runs on phones made by: Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Siemens, Panasonic, Samsung, Fujitsu, Mitsubishi and Sharp.
Main application store: Ovi Store by Nokia / Symbian Horizon (launched in 2009)
Number of Apps: 5,000+ / 50+

Research In Motion BlackBerry
Approximate market share in Q2 2009: 20.9%*
Approximate market share in 2012: 12.5%**
First commercially available smartphone based on OS: BlackBerry 5810 (released in 2002)
Runs on phones made by: Research In Motion
Main application store: BlackBerry App World (launched in 2009)
Number of Apps: 2000+

Apple iPhone
Approximate market share in Q2 2009: 13.7%*
Approximate market share in 2012: 13.7**
First commercially available smartphone based on OS: iPhone (released in 2007)
Runs on phones made by: Apple
Main application store: Apple App Store
Number of Apps: 100,000+

Microsoft Windows Mobile
Approximate market share in Q2 2009: 9%*
Approximate market share in 2012: 12.8%**
First commercially available smartphone based on OS: First release under the "Windows Mobile" name was in 2003
Runs on phones made by: Acer, Alltel, Asus, Casio, Dell, Dopod, Fujitsu-Siemens, HP, HTC, i-mate, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, NEC, Palm, Sagem, Samsung, Sharp,Siemens and Toshiba.
Main application store: Windows Marketplace for Mobile (launched in 2009)
Number of Apps: 246+

Google Android
Approximate market share in Q2 2009: 2.8%*
Approximate market share in 2012: 14%**
First commercially available smartphone based on OS: HTC Dream (released in 2008)
Runs on phones made by: Archos, Dell, HTC, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson (with more companies to launch Android-powered phones in the near future)
Main application store: Android Market
Number of Apps: 10,000+

*Percentage of market share derived from Canalys's Q2/2009 Global Smartphone Sales by Smartphone operating systems figures which do not include figures for Linux, Palm's WebOS or Samsung's Bada platforms.

**Percentage of market share derived from Gartner's Smartphone OS market share 2012 Forecast released on October 6, 2009.

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