Top 10 Smartphone Advances Of 2009

As smartphones further cemented their place in the enterprise, Apple, Motorola, Google Android, and RIM Blackberry vied for the spotlight.

The foundation is reworking the OS, and it is expected to have a refined user interface, as well as contributions from various foundation members including Qualcomm, AT&T, Nokia, MySpace, and others. It also has an aggressive plan to continually update the OS with new versions expected nearly every six months. As an open source OS, Symbian will be directly competing with Android. The foundation said Symbian won't be as tied to a single contributor's interests as much as Android could be aligned with Google's bottom line.

Some developers have also complained that it's too difficult to create apps for Symbian, particularly compared to Android or the iPhone. The foundation has launched a developer program called Symbian Horizon that aims to lower the barrier of entry and help content creators get their apps in as many virtual stores as possible.

Developers and handset makers can get a taste of what Symbian will look like from the foundation's beta site, and Sony Ericsson is expected to have the first handset with the open source Symbian. The foundation expects a plethora of Symbian devices to be released in 2010.

10. Computer Makers Jump Into The Smartphone Space

The mobile computing space is converging, and some of today's smartphones are as powerful as laptops were only a few years ago. This is causing various manufacturers to jump into new product categories in order to capitalize on this shift in computing. Apple has been the most successful so far, as its iPhone is continually among the best-selling smartphones, and it is widely seen as an innovator in the space.

Acer took the smartphone plunge in 2009, and it plans to release multiple devices in mature and emerging markets. After years of speculation and rumors, Dell also introduced a smartphone this year that is powered by Android. Dell is starting off in Brazil and China, but analysts expect it to enter the North American and European markets after it has refined its mobile division.

Some analysts warn that the smartphone space can be challenging because software development is crucial, and some computer makers are not adept at this.

"Many of these new entrants look at Apple's success and think they can get a piece of the pie," said Charles Golvin, analyst for Forrester Research. "But they're not Apple."

These companies face many challenges, but the potential audience is too much to ignore. For example, China Mobile alone has more than 500 million wireless subscribers, and many of these are expected to transition to smartphones over the next five years.

The shift in mobile computing is also impacting handset makers, as Nokia recently introduced a netbook powered by Windows 7. HTC is also reportedly mulling creating a laptop.

For Further Reading

What Goes Mobile?

Practical Analysis: Smartphones -- Passion To Profit And Productivity

Smartphones Sales Continue Rise

Smartphone Boom Challenging PC Makers