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New smartphone OSes take baby steps forward

Mikael Ricknäs | Aug. 28, 2013
Newcomers Firefox, Ubuntu, Sailfish and Tizen won't challenge Android's dominance anytime soon, but can still survive, according to analysts.

But when it comes to the availability of the first devices, Remy didn't have much to add when interviewed on Friday.

"There is nothing specific we can announce at the moment. I am sorry about that. But in the coming months we are hoping to be able to be a bit more vocal and public about the work we are doing," Remy said.

Orange is also monitoring the progress made by the other new OSes, and will add devices if they gain traction, said Remy. But Android, with its stability, aggressive pricing and large ecosystem, is Orange's choice for low-end smartphones, he said.

Despite the lack of news, Tizen is still the one to watch, according to Blaber.

"That is purely because of Samsung. Samsung sees itself as a platform company, and it wants to take control of the OS to drive product development, service and content rollouts across multiple product categories, not just mobile," he said

Behind the scenes Intel and Samsung have been spending money to lay the groundwork for getting developers onboard. For example, with money from Intel, cross-platform development vendor Appcelerator has added support for Tizen to its development platform. Intel knows that selling devices requires developers and applications, according to the company.

Vendors of other cross-platform development tools are also lining up behind Tizen, including Sencha and Unity Technologies.

But a survey conducted by Appcelerator and IDC in April suggested that the two companies have an uphill battle ahead of them. Only 9 percent of the respondents said they were very interested in Tizen, compared to 19 percent for Ubuntu and 25 percent for Firefox OS.

Even though Mozilla is seemingly doing better than the backers of the other new platforms, the company still has a lot of work to do before it reaches the level of interest developers are showing for iOS, Android and, to a lesser extent, Windows Phone.

About 87 percent of respondents said they were very interested in Apple's iOS and 78 percent showed the same level of interest for Android. Even though more apps are being added all the time, the survey underlines that Microsoft and its partner Nokia are still struggling to attract developers. About 37 percent said they were very interested in Windows phones.

"As we have seen with Windows Phone, the challenge for any new platform is to ensure you get the leading apps market by market, and you can tick the boxes for the leading top 20," Blaber said.

Getting developers and consumers onboard was never going to be easy. But the interest for Canonical's Edge, Jolla's order and initial Firefox OS sales show there is a demand, albeit limited.


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