There’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.