Operator Giants Mull Creation of New OS

gsmamobilebusinessbriefing.gifThere’s a report on the GSM Business Briefing site that mentions that "Operator giants mull creation of new OS". They will be thinking about a… "common platform for mobile devices""motivated by a view that Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems have become a “Trojan horse” for these companies to establish their own relationships with mobile customers"

The article mentions this might be either an entirely new platform, a custom version of OS platform (Symbian, LiMo, MeeGo or Android) or a middleware layer like the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC). Note that… "all of the operators involved in the talks are also involved in WAC to varying degrees".

I have had a quick think about this and here are some factors I think they should be considering…

  • Consumer confusion – what exactly am I buying?
  • Hardware manufacturer buy-in – Why should they?
  • Complexity of creating a wholly new platform – Huge cost and effort?
  • Inertia to get operator engineering departments on board – Have they the resource?
  • Developer community – Do developers want another platform?
  • Developer ecosystem – It’s not just the SDK. Think about tools, web sites, forums, support, tutorials, app store, payment, multiple currencies/countries.
  • Difficulty to get several large operator organisations to meet let alone make decisions – Is it possible in a respectable time scale?
  • WAC Success – Is it going anywhere?
  • Standards – What standards should be used?
  • Open source vs closed source – Does it matter?
  • Web vs App based – What’s best? User experience? Developer experience? Cross platform?
  • Branding – What/who will be the ‘brand’?
  • Marketing – Who is responsible for marketing?

My initial take on all of this is that it’s all so complex and tied up in inter- and intra- company politics that it’s unlikely to ever get off the ground. Even if it gets airborne, with so many other compelling mobile operating systems and ecosystems, I doubt many phone OEMs or developers will go along for the ride.

Instead, I believe operators should be thinking about how to innovate on top of the open (and non-open) operating systems, to ensure they provide added-value, improve customer service and thus provide for a level of customer lock-in.