Report: Open Source Smartphone Shipments to Double By 2014

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 01, 2009

Despite the lagging economy, smartphones remain a hot market, and open source phones are in the spotlight. According to research from Juniper Research telecom consultants, the number of smartphones shipped with open source operating systems will increase from 106 million this year to 223 million by 2014. Juniper's study found that open source operating systems and applications "are playing an increasingly important role in the differentiation of new smartphones and are a key factor in the choice of which handset to choose from by users." Juniper's findings are being echoed by other researchers.

Surprisingly, Juniper's announcement doesn't even mention the Android operating system, which is spreading out to many new handsets and other devices. According to analysts at Strategy Analytics, Android will be the fastest growing smartphone operating system of all in 2009, with an estimated 900 percent growth rate over the course of the year. Strategy Analytics has also forecasted that within two or three years, Google will command most of the smartphone operating system market.

Juniper Research reports the following, and you can get more details in a freely downloadable whitepaper found here:

"The move to open source operating systems has encouraged developers to design new and attractive applications, and with over 60 percent of the OS market now based on open source, and a sizeable pool of software design talent out there, there is a massive opportunity for innovation. However, the real key is not whether the OS is open source but whether it’s easy for a developer to design an application and make money from that effort. The combined changes of Apple’s open route to the market and LiMo, OHA and Symbian’s open source OS approach have generated a tidal wave-like effect which even the economic downturn has been unable to reverse."

I agree with Juniper that "the choice of OS is now critical and market share will, to a large extent, follow application development." Applications, are indeed, the key to platform success. However, I'm betting that Android will outshine Symbian's, LiMo's and other platforms in the long run. There's no question, though, that mobile platforms have become a huge opportunity for open source innovation. And, in the mobile space, Microsoft does not have the dominance that it has on the desktop.