It still feels like yesterday when Apple introduced the first iPhone about 5 years ago. It started a revolution in the mobile industry. Before that, we had the lovely J2ME, Symbian, Windows Mobile and many other attempts to create an acceptable mobile experience. After that, the mobile standard was created. Google followed quickly with Android. They used the last couple of years to improve their OS, while simultaneously win popularity by making smartphones affordable for anyone who didn’t want to pay more than 600 bucks for a smartphone. Meanwhile, both parties gained more and more ground the last couple of years. During their growth and progress they made it difficult for other companies to join in. Microsoft realised that they should rebuild their mobile OS from scratch just in time. Blackberry though, they only recently introduced their new version. Future will tell if this was eventually too late.
Here they are: Ubuntu. Just recently released their mobile OS. In a revolutionised mobile market with iOS and Android with a giant lead in terms of apps and device sales. Even so, Ubuntu will squeeze themselves in between the current giants Android and iOS. First of all, they will manage that by offering a staggering Operating System. The demonstration at the Mobile World Congress 2013 showed a sleek and fast OS with attention to every detail. They also seem to have created the real Ubuntu feel. Unfortunately, the devices were operated by Ubuntu and was not for anyone to play with.
Providing a good OS is only the first step. Basically, it’s the bare minimum for anyone that wants to create a new mobile OS; ask Microsoft! But what I think will make a difference, is that all of a sudden, Ubuntu provides not only a new mobile OS. They provide the whole range from Desktop to tablet to smartphone. And because its all the same code base, it should be easy for app developers to easily provide for all three. Of course, this is not entirely new. Microsoft does the same thing with its new Windows 8. But I think this concept will shake up the market shares. Because, if we compare this with Apple. They try to merge OS X and iOS to create the same experience on whatever Apple device. Of course there is the iCloud. But will that be enough? Android is probably most lost in this whole story. Sure, they have a good phone and tablet OS. But what do they have more? Chromebook?! Maybe Samsung can change this for Android.
B vs C
So, how will this change the market. My prediction is that both Microsoft and Ubuntu will gain market share on the business side. Create a presentation on your desktop; look it over on your way to the presentation; and use your tablet as a second screen during your presentation. This could be an example which makes it interesting for businesses. And by the growing popularity of Ubuntu, it will be a nice battle for the business end of desktop and mobile sales.
On the other hand, I don’t think many consumers will change their IT-setup at home. What will change there, is that the desktop will leave from consumer houses. Instead, more and more consumers will buy a tablet and maybe a matching smartphone. In that case, anyone has equal change to convince the consumer to buy their product.
Ubuntu is a new player on the mobile market. But they will survive because they provide for desktop, tablet and smartphone. By this, the advantage of the early mobile operating systems is not important. This doesn’t mean that Ubuntu will push everybody else out of the market. But they will compete for business, together with Microsoft.