Android, Symbian, Bada, WebOS. The list goes on. The list of smartphone operating systems is growing by the day. Many are open source, a good number are proprietary and some are barely out of beta.
Like many things from Google its Android operating system has gone from nowhere to being one of the biggest smartphone operating systems almost overnight. Most commonly seen on HTC and Motorola phones, Android is now popping up on the likes of Samsung and Sony Ericsson phones as well as tablet devices from Acer and others. Android is open source software.
Not a great deal is known about Samsung’s Bada operating system except that it is open source and based on Linux. To date Bada has only been shipped on one phone, the Samsung Wave. In a world now crowded with Linux-based mobile phone operating systems, Bada’s future is uncertain.
The Blackberry OS is a proprietary operating system created by Research in Motion for its range of Blackberry phones. Blackberry OS is specifically engineered to cater for things such as push mail.
iPhone OS is the default operating system on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It is derived from Apple’s Mac OS X operating system and is proprietary, although originally based on Unix-like BSD.
Maemo is Nokia’s other mobile phone operating system. Based on Linux, Maemo is specifically designed for the N900 smartphone. Maemo was recently merged with Intel’s Moblin operating system to create MeeGo, an operating system mostly targeted at the tablet and smartbook/netbook market.
MeeGo is the result of Nokia and Intel combining their respective Maemo and Moblin operating systems. Maemo is Linux-based, open source and primarily targeted at the tablet, netbook and set-top box markets.
Symbian is Nokia’s mobile phone OS and the dominant operating system on smartphones with around 44% of the overall market. Earlier this year Symbian held more than 50% of the market but newcomers such as Android have made strong inroads into Symbian’s share. Nokia has released Symbian as open source software but it doesn’t have as much momentum among developers as many other smartphone operating systems.
WebOS is a Linux-based smartphone OS developed by Palm, one of the early innovators in handheld devices. Recently, however, Palm fell on hard times and was bought by HP. HP isn’t specifically active in the smartphone market but it is working on tablet devices which could be expected to run WebOS.
Microsoft’s proprietary mobile phone operating system used to be among the most popular mobile phone OSes but was recently knocked down to fifth place with just 7% market share. Microsoft’s Windows Mobile version 6 was originally released in February 2007 and, while it has had updates since then, is falling behind the competition as far as features go. Windows Mobile 7 has been repeatedly delayed and although it has been announced it hasn’t actually featured on any phones yet.
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