Ronnie05's Blog

Is there room for more than 3 OSs in Mobile?

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on February 27, 2013

Gary Kovacs, CEO Mozilla wants a piece of the action in enabling the next 2 billion people graduate to the internet. Thus the Firefox OS. Over the last couple of weeks there have been increasing number of claims to divergence in the Mobile OS space- Blackberry 10, Tizen, Ubuntu and now Mozilla. Additionally Samsung is shutting off Bada and HP is selling off WebOS (to LG).

Mobile OS logos

1. Android being the 70% market leader is working on economies of scale and scope – spreading the open platform across multiple domains – TV, Project Glass, Set Top Boxes, Refridgerators, Cars and more. Thus Android is emerging as the truly “connected OS” in the age of convergence
2. Apple still rules as the king of experience and if the experiments in India are replicated across emerging nations – and if the low cost iPhone is in works – Apple will multiply its market share in the mid range ($200) segment in the emerging nations.
3. Historically, OSs have largely oligopolistic/monopolistic in nature. Windows has ruled the PC wave and Android/iOS share the spoils in Mobile devices (Smartphones and Tablets). Even in the feature phone category – Symbian ruled the roost before the advent of Smartphones.
4.While the promise of a diversified OS experience and OS fatigue is a promised land – most of the experiments in this field have returned without encouraging results. (The Palm and HP experience with WebOS and the Samsung experience with home grown Bada being key examples)
5. Even a Goliath like Microsoft is unable to turn the RT platform with a reasonably decent Windows8 experience. Currently all it has is just a toe-hold in the industry even with a Office monopoly out there.
6. Operators – the key market facing entities in the telecom eco-system support the concept of multi OS but the consumer ask is converging to 2 or maximum of 3 OSs. Apple, Android and Blackberry/Windows take those spaces.
7. OEMs and Developers on the other hand would like to be working on 2/3 OSs – OEMs get their economies of scale and Developers have lesser customization requirements for their apps (Agree that HTML5 may change a bit of this)

There’s yet another promise of a light OS with cloud support supported by HTML5 – but even that experience is far from mainstream currently. Many of the fledgeling OSs plan to ride the HTMl5 wave. However, HTML5 and its features are also key to Android and Apple’s iOS – all the more relevant with over 600K apps each.

All these factors put together- my feeling is that there isn’t much room for multi-OS play. I had love to be proven wrong such as the way Windows explorer ceded the browser space to Chrome, Safari and Mozilla.

So to answer Mr.Kovacs narrative – “Apple and Google have led the way in the smartphone market but can’t cover the whole thing- it (is) impossible to understand how 3, 4, 5, or 6 billion people are going to get their diverse needs satisfied by one or two or five companies, no matter how delicious those companies are… Is the farmer in the Indian countryside going to have the same needs and requirements as a lawyer sitting in New York?

Yes, Mr.Kovacs- there is very limited need divergence in the age of convergence- and then there is scale!

OS Wars (Part III):Sibling Rivalry between Chrome and Ubuntu

Linux Sibling RivalryThe launch of the Google Chrome OS is seen primarily as a threat to Microsoft’s legacy. However, Chrome may also splinter the Linux juggernaut just when things were gung-ho with Ubuntu.

 If there is one problem that the Linux and open-source community has suffered repeatedly over the past two decades, it’s been fragmentation. There are several different platforms: Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, FreeBSD etc and the list is always growing longer. Based on their regions and sources, users, communities and companies have switched among different Linux distributions several times over the past decade, as one or the other gained prominence.

After Red Hat, Fedora, Mandriva, Suse, Slackware and Debian, from the Linux stable; the bright light forming at the end of that confused and heterogeneous tunnel was Mark Shuttleworth’s Ubuntu. Out of the ferocious Linux distribution wars, Ubuntu has emerged with the seeming strength to take on the rest–at least when it comes to the Linux desktop platform. The growing dominance of Ubuntu (at least on the desktop, the server room seems to have been won by Red Hat) has delivered the Linux community a serious advantage in its ongoing war against the incumbent Windows and Apple platforms because of its ability to give software developers a single platform to concentrate on and polish to a degree not seen previously.

In this context, Google’s decision to create its own Linux distribution and splinter the Linux community decisively once again can only be seen as foolhardy and self-obsessive. Instead of treading its own path, Google should have sought to leverage the stellar work already carried out by Shuttleworth and his band of merry coders and tied its horse to the Ubuntu cart. If Google truly wanted to design a new “windowing system on top of a Linux kernel,” there should be nothing to stop the search giant from collaborating openly with the best in the business. Google’s plans to “completely redesign” the underlying security architecture of Linux could be seen as counterproductive to the purpose of Linux.

While Google has made moves in the direction of open source with its pledge to open-source Chrome OS, the same way it did with several previous projects: the Chrome browser itself and its Android mobile OS, doubts still remain about those projects also. For example, where do they fit in between true open-source projects, maintained and supported by the community, and to what extent are they extensions of Google’s online advertising empire?

Android is a great mobile operating system, second only to Apple’s iPhone platform. But Google still controls most aspects of Android’s development. Also, anyone using Android would have no doubt that the operating system ties in very nicely with Google’s cloud offerings (for example, Gmail). But things are a lot trickier if you prefer Windows Live or other rival systems. Chrome too, is a great browser that I use for much of my daily needs. But it’s mainly still in Google’s hands, and so those of us who prefer true competition to exist in the browser world take great comfort from the fact that Mozilla Firefox is completely independent and not pushing anyone’s agenda.

Who are you going to trust and believe in? The non-commercial Ubuntu Foundation (and wider project), which has developed an open-source operating system second to none and virtually ended the Linux distribution wars? Or Google, which also makes free products (well, mostly) and packages advertising in (sometimes)? Google makes great products. But it’s currently trying to tread a nice middle ground between completely embracing the open-source community and keeping control over software it has developed. That’s an impossible path to walk and one that leaves it open to being criticized for the same sort of arrogance that operating system vendors have been accused of for decades.


Operating systems: The Big Squeeze

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on February 7, 2009
The Bug Squeeze


Those huge operating systems are citadels of the past! Most of the major OS vendors are designing their next versions of OSs with a smaller footprint! So now, the software concept revolves around JeOS (pronounced “juice”), the Just Enough OS, even as hardware goes mobile like Celio RedFly, an 8-inch screen and keyboard device running applications off a smartphone via a USB or a Bluetooth connection. Thus, this is an era of squeeze for the massive operating systems!


The rationale behind the squeeze is simple: Why do you have to fit a Ferrari 10 cylinder 450 BHP engine when all you require is a Tata Nano in performance!


Reason 1. A smaller code base is easier to develop and manage than a larger one!


Reason 2. Computing has graduated from mainframes, desktops and lap tops to Smart phones, Notebooks and PDAs. Thus hardware resources are also limiting!


The two reasons stated above make the case for a smaller OS a difficult thing to ignore!


To quote Ephraim Schwartz, “Today, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile is a separate code base from the desktop Windows, while Apple’s iPhone OS is a both a subset of and extension of the Mac OS. In both cases, that adds a lot of work for their companies and for application developers. And it means that customers must support an unwieldy number of operating systems.”


Reason 3. The other obvious advantage is that a smaller OS reduces the memory footprint. This reduces the number of applications opened at boot, it reduces memory space usage, reduces battery drainage and in consumer term is effective and fast!


Thus, major OS vendors are designing the next versions of their OS — Windows 7, Linux in its many distributions, and Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard — with a smaller footprint.


Reason 4: Mobile devices have a greater dependence on the browser! Thus the OS shrinks giving up much of its role to the browser!


Reason5: Web 2.0 is a liberating medium! There was a time when no one thought that feature rich applications would sit anywhere but the OS. (example Adobe Photoshop). However with Adobe Photoshop migrating to and Photoshop Express (a web 2.0 application), do you really need to load Adobe on your system? Do you need that OS?


Interestingly, Microsoft is in denial over the seizure in dominance of the OS trend. However, the course of lfe and development, being Darwinian (evolution), companies will have to adapt or die as virtualization, cloud computing, the explosion of unique devices, and the desire for more efficient, less costly operating systems all drive the next generation of business users toward smaller, less costly, and more efficient operating environments
%d bloggers like this: