Apple iOS, Google Android feared to be hitting middle age as five year old platforms

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014


A market research group has teamed up with a business analyst to conceptualize the notion that mobile operating systems only last for ten years, peaking after five, an idea that suggests Apple and Google are approaching their apex at middle age and risk an imminent decline.



Market research group Strategy Analytics and RBC Capital Market analyst Mark Sue both highlighted a trend in comparing RIM's beleaguered Blackberry OS, Microsoft's abandoned Windows Mobile, the dead Palm OS and Nokia's now comatose Symbian, all of which were first introduced as smartphone operating systems around 2002.



A graphic produced by Strategy Analytics shows a particularly convincing lines that suggest Apple's iOS and Google's Android might be fated to follow the same paths, given that both turn five later this year.









"History shows that operating systems peak in the middle of a 10-year cycle," Sue wrote in a note to investors, adding that while iOS and Android are both currently selling lots of devices, their "sustainability beyond five years remains to be seen."



The chart doesn't depict why mobile operating systems of the past peaked after just a few years, nor does it delve into details related to market trends, such as the mass conversion of PDAs to smartphones ten years ago, or the tremendous shift from basic feature phones to smartphones going on today.



A brief history of smartphones for analysts



The Palm OS was actually developed in 1996 to run handheld organizers, and didn't start to become a smartphone platform until the Handspring Treo was introduced in 2002, at which point its underlying technology was already five years old.



Microsoft's Windows Mobile was similarly an effort to sell the company's Windows CE mobile "handheld PC" platform to drive phones. Its WinCE core similarly originated in 1996 and wasn't used in smartphones until 2002.



Nokia's Symbian also originated as an OS behind pocket organizers, first by Psion in the late 80s. The initial Nokia Symbian smartphones were released in 2001, at which the core technology behind them was already over a decade old.



RIM's Blackberry OS first originated in the company's pagers in 1999 and started being used in the company's smartphones in 2002.



That means the world's "old" smartphone operating systems all came into their current role when smartphones began as an observable trend almost exactly ten years ago.



Their actual "ages" in 2002 ranged from about three to 13 years, and each developed in wildly different circumstances. BlackBerry and Palm OS were originally completely proprietary, essentially embedded operating systems while Windows Mobile (and later Palm OS) were broadly licensed, while Symbian evolved from an embedded OS to a broadly licensed platform to an open source project.



In addition to these well known smartphone platforms, a variety of embedded platforms created by Motorola, LG, Samsung and other smartphone vendors over the past decade have combined custom code, Linux, Java and Adobe's Flash Lite to deliver smartphone products, all of which also suddenly began to decline in popularity exactly five years ago.



From that perspective, there is zero correlation between age and the sudden nosedive of all these operating systems five years ago, the date Apple introduced the iPhone.



Unless another company introduces a new product with the ability to suddenly disrupt the public's interest in today's five year old iOS and Android, Apple and Google should not have too much to worry about.



Other evidence that doesn't support a ten year life span



Speaking for Strategy Analytics, Alex Spektor, told Fortune in an interview that "no single platform has consistently dominated for eternity. Something better and newer comes along and pushes it out of leadership position."



Spektor also noted that "after operating systems drop from their 5-year peak" their vendors suddenly refresh and replace them, acknowledging such revitalizing efforts such as Palm's webOS in 2009, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 toward the end of 2010, and RIM's efforts to deliver its new QNX-based BlackBerry X last year.



So far, none of these efforts have turned things around; RIM is still struggling to deliver its new OS for its smartphones, while Palm sold itself off to HP and its new technology was largely scuttled due to a management crisis. Microsoft's valiant efforts to promote WP7 over the past year have only resulted in the company losing the remains of its existing market share.



Nokia's initial efforts to modernize Symbian within an ambitious open source project, and its parallel efforts to launch Maemo/Meego Linux, were both abandoned last year after failing to turn things around quickly enough. None of these efforts were anywhere near reaching a five year apex; they simply failed to introduce the same level of disruption in the market that Apple's iOS caused five years ago.



Is iOS getting old?



While all of the original smartphone operating systems now in decline are based on code that is least a decade old this year, Apple's iOS is based on a core platform that outdates all of them. From its kernel to its APIs to its developer tools, the iOS has a direct lineage dating back to 1988, when Steve Jobs first showed off the NeXT Computer.



Rather than age, the biggest differentiation between Apple's iOS and the initial wave of smartphone operating systems was that Apple's iOS was derived from a platform-agnostic desktop operating system founded on Unix and an advanced object oriented development system, rather than being an embedded mobile OS with a pedigree of running PDAs, pagers, and handheld organizers.



It was actually this "age" and sophistication that enabled Apple to disrupt the smartphone market with a brand new product, because the iPhone greatly benefited from having a mature kernel, APIs and development tools.



Google's Android, while based on existing Danger technology and incorporating existing Linux and Java technology, still changed enough of its core design so that it has taken years for the platform to achieve a level of stability and maturity that it can be compared in some respects to Apple's iOS.



The platform that can, does



Unlike any other smartphone operating system, iOS still shares significant kernel, API and development tool technology with both the desktop Mac OS X and with other successful mobile devices outside of the smartphone, including iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV.



HP, Palm, Microsoft and RIM have all failed in their attempts to introduce tablet or handheld PC products beyond smartphones. Even Google's Android platform hasn't managed to drive significant sales of tablets or set top boxes, despite major initiatives over the past two years seeking to achieve that.



Additionally, when Google attempted to enter the notebook market with Chromebook, it didn't even try to use Android, but rather developed a parallel effort. Similarly, Microsoft's next efforts to sell PCs and tablets will revolve around Windows 8, which bears little in common with its WP7 smartphone platform on a kernel, API or development tool level.



After expressing morbid concerns about the fate of Apple's nearly five year old iOS, Spektor acknowledged that "the outcome isn’t the same for all platforms."

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    tinman0tinman0 Posts: 168member
    "History shows that operating systems peak in the middle of a 10-year cycle,"



    History is remarkably short in the computer world, let alone the smart phone world. How do you plot a 10 cycle against history that is only around 15 years in the first place (think Nokia and Eriksson in the late 90s).



    RIM/Nokia/Windows/etc didn't die because they were on a 10 year cycle, they died because Apple came up with something much better, and Android copied Apple and gave away a free os backed by a major brand (Google). They died because they got stale and some proper competitors joined the market and upped the stakes.
  • Reply 2 of 47
    sricesrice Posts: 115member
    OSX is 10 years old now, and I consider it the best consumer desktop OS. It's got another 10 years left IMO.



    I don't see any difference between iOS and OSX longevity -- in 5 years we'll be looking forward to the next 10 years of iOS.
  • Reply 3 of 47
    rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member
    Shoot! By the time I get an iPhone, its OS will be "retired".

    /

    /

    /
  • Reply 4 of 47
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    Duh! The other numbers started dropping as ios and android came into the picture. If a much better OS/phone came out this year that made iOS and android look terribly outdated and gathered market share- then yes, iOS and android would suffer. But alas- as of now, that isn't the case. So pick your one of two choices- I picked mine.
  • Reply 5 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    History is remarkably short in the computer world, let alone the smart phone world. How do you plot a 10 cycle against history that is only around 15 years in the first place (think Nokia and Eriksson in the late 90s).



    RIM/Nokia/Windows/etc didn't die because they were on a 10 year cycle, they died because Apple came up with something much better, and Android copied Apple and gave away a free os backed by a major brand (Google). They died because they got stale and some proper competitors joined the market and upped the stakes.



    Agreed - If Android and iOS were to start going downhill this year, that would mean that one or more new operating systems would have to appear *now* and start gaining traction *faster* than Android and iOS, which are still growing.



    What a ridiculous analysis.
  • Reply 6 of 47
    This is BEYOND stupid.



    This reminds me of the original impetus behind the development of the Apple ///. The notion was that microcomputers (as they once were known) had limited lifecycles. The thinking was benighted by the fact that immature platforms have low "switching" costs. The rise of the IBM PC and then the Macintosh put paid to this argument ? permanently.



    Let these "analysts" trot out their "data". The modern mobile platforms are leaps beyond what once was extant...
  • Reply 7 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by unother View Post


    This is BEYOND stupid...Let these "analysts" trot out their "data". The modern mobile platforms are leaps beyond what once was extant...



    Agreed. And here's the proof that Apple is not a typical company:



    http://www.asymco.com/2012/01/18/the...ter-companies/
  • Reply 8 of 47
    mytdavemytdave Posts: 447member
    Give me a break. MacOS has been around for 28 years (sure that was version 1.0, but still). Microsoft Windows has been around for about 20 years (since v3.1 - the first usable version).



    iOS is still in it's infancy. I was going to say it's just started to hit it's stride, but I don't think we're even there yet. iOS has many, many years left in it, if not decades.



    I think where these folks' argument falls down is that they see all the failed phone OSs littering the landscape, and just presume that that applies to everyone. Well, iOS is the world's first mobile OS that doesn't suck, and that changes the entire ball game. iOS (for sure) and the Android rip-off (probably) are going to be around for a good long time. All the others? Not so sure.
  • Reply 9 of 47
    jensonbjensonb Posts: 529member
    How can you declare a "the year" cycle, when the industry you're referring to is barely 15 years old and has only been mature for...Around ten years?
  • Reply 10 of 47




    Let's see what idiocy we can cobble together today...



    So iOS and Android are in the middle of their life-cycles...



    Let's see, now, Unix began in the 1970s -- today ii's the 2010s...



    I guess we'd better short our AAPL somewhere around 2040-2050.



  • Reply 11 of 47
    Strategy Analytics and RBC Capital Market analyst Mark Sue painted a very misleading picture about the life-cycle of a mobile OS. The reason for OS atrophy has more to do with evolution than an arbitrary 10-year cycle.



    The best way to explain how Mark Sue is "off the mark" comes from science. Picture colonies of bacteria (mobile operating systems) in a constantly changing environment (the mobile market). Sue asserts that all colonies in this environment are genetically programmed to run a 10-year course that peaks after 5 years.



    The problem with that assertion is that it ignores each colony's ability to adapt. The reason Apple's iOS and Google's Android have taken over is that adaptation and innovation are part of their DNA. They are coded to change swiftly and to take advantage of changes in the environment. The other "colonies" (e.g,. Windows Phone, Blackberry, Palm) have DNA which was fine at the time, but immutable. The DNA of those companies produced few changes or adaptations, leaving them unable to adapt to a quickly-changing environment. Natural selection is working against them.



    Like any organism, the success of a platform is based upon its ability to adapt to changes in the environment and leverage those changes. Thankfully this market of innovation will lead to even greater capabilities for consumers. The life-cycle of a mobile OS depends entirely on the environment and the ability to quickly adapt, not on an arbitrary life-cycle.
  • Reply 12 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by unother View Post


    This is BEYOND stupid.



    This reminds me of the original impetus behind the development of the Apple ///. The notion was that microcomputers (as they once were known) had limited lifecycles. The thinking was benighted by the fact that immature platforms have low "switching" costs. The rise of the IBM PC and then the Macintosh put paid to this argument ? permanently.



    Let these "analysts" trot out their "data". The modern mobile platforms are leaps beyond what once was extant...



    WOW! My comment was going to be: "This is beyond stupid."



    You beat me to it.
  • Reply 13 of 47
    red oakred oak Posts: 844member
    This ties for first place for the most stupid ideas I have ever heard



    IOS is a wave that will crash over mobile and content industries for the next 10 yrs. Minimum. For Christ sakes, just walk into an Apple store and watch what the F**** is going on
  • Reply 14 of 47
    The critical factor missing in this "analysis" is the ecosystem that has grown up around iOS (and, to a lesser extent, Android). All those prior, failed mobile operating systems did not have hundreds of thousands of apps already built specifically for them, nor iCloud, nor seamless integration with the users desktop computer, tablet, tv accessory, etc.



    It was fairly easy for the market to simply toss those systems aside. About as easy as it will be for you to get a car from a different auto maker next time. But it would be very hard for the market to simply toss away iOS and Android.



    Look how long Windows has remained the Gorilla in the personal computer space, despite generally being a mediocre offering. That market is the one that is analogous, not RIM or Palm.
  • Reply 15 of 47
    eluardeluard Posts: 319member
    I read this and thought: am I the only one who sees this as too stupid for words?



    Glad to see that I'm not alone.



    The really depressing thing is that this idiot can get business people to listen to this quarter-witted crap.
  • Reply 16 of 47
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Daniel Eran Diliger


    Unlike any other smartphone operating system, iOS still shares significant kernel, API and development tool technology with both the desktop Mac OS X and with other successful mobile devices outside of the smartphone, including iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV.



    This is one of things that I hate about iOS development. Have you ever tried using Quartz on iOS? It's a horrible OO-wannabe C library. Your fingers get numb typing needless function arguments over and over again.



    I hope Apple scraps legacy libraries like Quartz and replaces them with modern Objective-C alternatives.
  • Reply 17 of 47
    This is a fairly poor analysis since it doesn't really mention the iPod OS. Clearly Apple knew that the iPod OS wasn't sufficient for a smartphone platform, so it created something new, iOS.



    At some point in the future, Apple will probably decide that it has gone as far as it can go with iOS and rewrite a new mobile OS from scratch.



    Apple also canned their hacked version of OS X that ran on the Apple TV and replaced it with iOS, again recognizing a dead end in an operating system running on a particular platform.
  • Reply 18 of 47
    This is one of the biggest crocks of shit I have ever heard.
  • Reply 19 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post


    This is one of the biggest crocks of shit I have ever heard.



    I agree wholeheartedly. They are trying to compare these "operating systems" to the pace of Windows/PC OS development. The iteration of new hardware and software on these smartphones far outpaces the Windows/PC world, and I doubt very much that the pace of change, updates, innovation, feature additions, and capabilities will become stagnant or stable any time soon, as we saw in the PC OS world. Windows 7 is tidied-up Vista, which isn't much different from XP if you ignore the bloated UI, which was just Windows 2000 with a facelift, which was just Windows NT, which was a just a new kernel with Windows 95/98 looks. And they all "do" much the same things. Phone OS's are "doing" more and more.



    So yes, this article is a crock.



    D
  • Reply 20 of 47


    Here ya' go...



    This



    Makes just about as much sense as these analysts...

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