The competition to become the third mobile device Operating System (OS), behind Google and Apple, has evolved. Introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) has shifted the focus. Now, savvy OS vendors need to be concerned with supporting wearables, smart cars, and smart home devices.
"For both new and incumbent OS vendors, capturing the next wave of users will require support of new device types, a strong focus on developing markets, and support for universal development processes," said Eric Abbruzzese, research analyst at ABI Research.
As Google expands Android Wear, and Apple launches its Apple Watch, other OS vendors must capitalize on not only wearables, but all smart device categories requiring an OS that supports apps. This emerging market is a tremendous upside opportunity for open-source solutions.
Why the Developer Community Matters
The Apple Watch is getting the news headlines, but it serves as an example of the current limitations of smart watches and their ecosystem -- the capabilities are limited to a few primary uses, while future devices will clearly need to be more multifaceted like a smartphone.
Capitalizing on these new device types throughout their launch and growth will help achieve scale, especially for newer OS vendors.
Along with new devices, an OS must also appeal to developing markets, which currently are the most active in mobile device usage. ABI believes that Southeast Asia, India, and China will prove to be crucial markets to capture, with inexpensive hardware paired with a locale-friendly OS and app store.
New entrants must aim for disruption of the market through capitalization on markets under-served by Google, while also supporting new development through universal technologies.
Capitalizing on markets outside of Google's services footprint, whether it be through AOSP, fully forked Android, or another open source platform, will prove necessary.
For development, creating a strong universal platform will not only help an OS attract new developers, but will also encourage developers to port their existing app content to a new OS.
ABI also believes that OS competition has reduced barriers today, when compared to three years ago.While even the race for the 3rd place OS is a high stakes game requiring significant capital, they have seen mobile operators, large national retailers, and upstart hardware manufacturers looking to the OS space to gain a foothold and leverage their services to better compete in the marketplace.