Will Symbian Give Way to Windows, Linux?

Windows andLinux are celebrating together. That’s because new research predicts these competing platforms will become the dominant force in advanced mobile operating systems.

As the demand for advanced devices accelerates, the battle among vendors will intensify, the Diffusion Group (TDG) contends in “Advanced Mobile Operating Systems: Analysis & Forecasts.”

Market leader Symbian will gradually lose share to Microsoft’s Mobile Windows and to Linux, says the report.

“Symbian will maintain leading share through 2009, but 2007 will see the beginning of Symbian’s decline in share as the combined market penetration of Windows, Linux and native Java begin to erode developer and vendor support for Symbian,” said Lee Allen, report author and lead mobile analystwith TDG.

Analysis and Forecasts

Symbian’s slow decline began in 2005, according to TDG’s chronicle. At the end of last year, it enjoyed a market share of 51 percent, followed by Linux at 23 percent and Microsoft at 17 percent, the firm reports.

However, Linux began gaining on Symbian in the second half of 2005, with a sizable boost in shipments. TDG believes this Linux trend will continue in 2006.

Is ‘Displace’ the Right Word?

At year-end 2010, Symbian’s market share of advanced mobile devices will decline to approximately 22 percent, behind both Windows at 29 percent and Linux at 26 percent, TDG reported. But is “displace” the right word to describe Symbian’s decline?

“It’s hard to say ‘displace.’ It’s more like we are going to see Windows increasingly co-exist with Symbian, and there is going to be some Linux in there as well,” JupiterResearch Analyst Michael Gartenberg told LinuxInsider. “That doesn’t mean we are talking about the end of Symbian, going forward.”

Carriers are definitely embracing Windows and Linux, but analysts don’t see an all-out platform war on the mobile phone. Instead, it’s a battle to get a slice of a growing pie.

“In the short term, you are just not going to see a dominant player akin to what we saw with Windows on the desktop. It’s going to be a number of strong players that are going to appeal to different segments of the marketplace,” Gartenberg noted.

Driving Advanced Mobile OS Growth

What we will see is growth. There are two key drivers for the growth of advanced mobile operating systems, according to TDG. The first is the emergence of the Chinese market. The second is the worldwide migration of users to more powerful devices as more sophisticated applications and seamless mobility are offered by operators.

Microsoft will leverage the presence of the Pocket PC and Smartphone versions of Windows Mobile, along with tight integration of Windows Mobile 5.0 with other Windows platforms, into a strong value proposition for enterprise and advanced consumer users, TDG predicted.

Where does that leave Linux?

“While Linux is going to play a certain role here, for the most part you simply have to do an awful lot of work on top of that Linux platform in order to make it viable,” Gartenberg said. “A lot of vendors are just not going to go through that trouble. They are going to go with Symbian or Microsoft or PalmSource.”

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