Mobile OS winners: iPhone, Palm WebOS, Android

At least that’s what Aral Balkan thinks, and I’m tempted to agree.


“WTF?” I hear you say – what about all those years of Symbian and Windows Mobile dominating the market?

Well, these are great operating systems, and they deserve a lot of credit. But from *today’s* perspective, they bet on the wrong horse.

What makes the iPhone, WebOS and Android different are three main things:

  • As stupid as it sounds, the fact that you could only buy the phones with a data plan finally proved the point that connected devices are far more usable as non-connected devices. Yes, you could use all those other smartphones online as well, but people only seriously started doing this (in numbers) when they were ‘forced’ to buy proper data plans.
  • Having many more users with ONLINE smartphones paved the way to app stores and mobile consumption of online services. They also had proper browsers that you could really use on the go for the first time (don’t give me Opera Mobile now – please….).
  • The three mobile operating systems above were designed with ONLINE in mind, and they only make sense in online scenarios. This point is made very well every time I leave the country and can not afford the rip-off data roaming rates, which turns my great iPhone 3GS into a quite bulky iPod that can’t even do GPS without data.

Now the next step is affordable data roaming. I’m pretty sure this will happen over the next few years.

The first step towards this may be – strangely enough – that Amazon started selling the Kindle (US version) in the rest of the world. I heard someone from the US say yesterday that he’d be buying an international Kindle in the US (!) to use it on international trips.

If that kind of madness doesn’t trigger innovation nothing will.