Android and iOS worth watching

Apple giving developers something to keep an eye on

July 13, 2010

By Anthony Cox from The Juniper Research Blog

With Apple demonstrating sales of 1 million/ per month for its iPad, its not surprising that a host of other players are gearing up to pile into the new tablet market. Last week I wrote a blog which listed ten, all of which come from the PC and consumer electronics industries. To this one can add a host of others that make smartphones, such as Nokia, Samsung, HTC and RIM. While the reasons for entering the market may be obvious, the practicalities of their doing so may be more complex.

Ironically, it is mobile handset manufacturers that have the most experience that face the greatest challenge, and that is because they are tied historically to a particular operating system which, while cutting edge in their day, no longer match up to two operating systems that are sweeping the market for both tablets and smartphones- iPhone OS and Android.

RIM and Nokia face a daunting task when confronted with devices like the iPad. The more developed their own operating systems, the larger the challenge they face if their operating systems fail to live up to expectations in the age of the mobile internet, which is increasingly the case. And unlike a host of consumer electronics manufacturers adopting me-to strategies, they cannot opt for the new operating system on the block, Android. They have far too much invested in their own OS infrastructure.

It is not surprising, then, that both RIM and Nokia are developing new operating systems- and as an open source system there is also no reason that Nokia’s MeeGo could not rival Android, even if the Google-led operating system has a substantial head-start with virtually every global consumer electronics brand planning to use it in their tablets.

If handset manufacturers get the operating system right, though, they still have advantages over new entrants like Dell or Acer. Their main advantage lies in their knowledge of communications itself and strong relationships with operators which can be leveraged to create strong channels to market.

Handset manufacturers may also come up with slightly different products from consumer electronics players- incorporating SMS and voice more readily than consumer electronics players. Perhaps the most important thing for operators to do though is to get to market as quickly as possible- before all their existing customers decide to go with someone else when they buy their new tablet.