A group of new open source mobile operating systems look set to make an impact on the mobile industry. Jolla recently released its first smartphone running on its Linux based Sailfish OS. Additionally, Firefox will be launching in Latin America and other emerging regions later this year on ZTE devices, and Tizen will be available on new Samsung smartphones in the next quarter. All of these OS newbies will be trying to put a dent in Apple's leadership by giving wireless carriers and OEM's more freedom to add their own profitable services that they're unable to today with companies like Apple. In the end, the money appears to be behind the Tizen OS backed by Samsung as being the one OS that could make notable traction in the coming years.
According to a new ABI report, "Tizen's strong backing from Intel and Samsung will enable it to quickly outpace its other Linux mobile OS challengers," says senior analyst Joshua Flood. "Additionally, other segments of the mobile ecosystem are keen for a new mobile OS to usurp Apple and Google's dominance in the market. Mobile network operators, particularly in Asia, have been looking for other options. Apple's refusal to modify its OS for operators to add customized services or differentiate operators' brands is one of the key factors for their discontent."
In a limited way, Tim Cook shed some light on the topic of opening up API's to third parties that would include mobile network operators during his D11 interview with Walt Mossberg.
Cook stated that "On the general topic of opening up APIs, I think you'll see us open up more in the future, but not to the degree that we put the customer at risk of having a bad experience." Mossberg pressed to clarify: So there'll be some features you'll let third parties do? And Cook replied, "Yes."
Is Apple's gesture of opening up their API's seen as too little too late?
In some camps, apparently so. Those behind Tizen have been quick to build its membership group with some very notable mobile vendors who are volunteering their support. Orange and Vodafone are two potentially key network operators for making an impact in Europe. Furthermore, KT, NTT DoCoMo, and SK Telekom have promised to promote the emerging OS in Asia.
ABI Research forecasts that the Asia-Pacific region will provide the biggest opportunity for the new OS and almost 65% of its future smartphone installed base will be to this single region. Translation: While Tizen based devices won't be much of a challenge to Apple in the US any time soon, it could represent some trouble for Apple in both China and India in the years ahead if the noted carriers actually follow through on their promises.
For now, all eyes will be on Apple to deliver a little Shock and Awe of their own over the next two or three Apple events starting on June tenth. Apple needs to reignite their innovative touch to fire up their customer base while showing the market that Apple without the late great Steve Jobs still has what it takes to be the industry's leader.