Should People Care What OS Powers Their Smartphone?Should People Care What OS Powers Their Smartphone?
I am sure just about everyone reading this blog knows exactly what operating system their smartphone runs, and more than a few of you know what patches and updates have been applied, either automatically or manually. I suspect few average consumers knows what is driving their smartphone. This is in stark contrast to the desktop, where just about everyone knows what operating system their desktop runs.
February 20, 2009
I am sure just about everyone reading this blog knows exactly what operating system their smartphone runs, and more than a few of you know what patches and updates have been applied, either automatically or manually. I suspect few average consumers knows what is driving their smartphone. This is in stark contrast to the desktop, where just about everyone knows what operating system their desktop runs.James Kindrick has brought this up in his jkOnTheRun blog, where he spends some time on this issue and others that Microsoft will face with Windows Mobile in the future. I've run into a number of people that start talking about doing certain things on their phone and when I ask what it is, they will often say it is a Blackberry, but once they pull it out and show it, it is just a phone with a keyboard. It might be a Blackberry, but it could also be powered by Windows Mobile, or it could be an older Palm OS based Treo, and it might be little more than a feature phone that has a keyboard for serious SMS'ers. The name "Blackberry" has become the new name for a phone with a keyboard, just like years ago the term "Palm Pilot" was the name for any PDA that had a stylus, regardless of who made it or what OS it ran. The other name often brought up is "iPhone" and usually, it really is an iPhone. Occasionally though you'll run into someone that has some sort of touch screen device that plays music and pictures and icons slide around like they were on greased ice. The sales person may have convinced them it was so much like an iPhone it was the same thing, so that is what they call it. I am not sure that it really matters. If the consumer has what they want, why should they care what the OS is? IT departments must know exactly what their users have, but end users and consumers generally shouldn't care. Most people don't know who makes the engine in their car or what OS is powering their DVR. But that is where the problem lies for mobile OS makers like Google and Microsoft. Microsoft doesn't make phones, persistent rumors of the Zune Phone notwithstanding. They only make the operating system. Google is in the same boat with Android. Palm doesn't have this issue as they own WebOS and will make their own phones like the forthcoming Pre. Apple has the iPhone, RIM has the Blackberry, and Nokia has dozens of devices running S60. I suspect these makers don't really care much if the OS shares a piece of the glory. Their goal is to sell hot devices like the Pre, Bold or iPhone. Microsoft is trying to build brand equity by leveraging Windows with the new Windows Phone name, their fourth major name change in a decade. I question whether that will work. In the 1980's, Bill Gates knew it was about the software. IBM had it all wrong about it being the hardware. For phones though, it seems hardware is where it is at. Can Microsoft and Google get people to care about the OS, or will they simply have to be content with riding the coattails of device manufacturers like HTC, LG and Samsung?
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