The Symbian handset platform is set to maintain its lead as the market trends towards open source, says a new Juniper Research forecast.
But a study by iSuppli, while agreeing that Symbian will remain the frontrunner, makes the surprise prediction that Windows Mobile will reclaim the second spot in the smartphone OS market.
In a study of open source handset platforms, Juniper expects Symbian shipments to more than double from 87 million this year to 180 million by 2014, despite increasing popularity of emerging OS like Google’s Android and LiMo.
This, together with a steady increase in Android and LiMo shipment, will push the total open source handset market to 223 million by that time, up over 110% from 106 million this year.
Juniper said that despite the progress by those open-source systems, Apple’s hugely popular iPhone product was a proprietary operating system.
RIM, Microsoft and Palm also use proprietary operating systems in their smartphone products. However, with over 60% of the smartphone market now using an open-source OS, there has still been a significant a shift away from proprietary to open-source, Juniper Research noted.
Despite this, iSuppli said the reports of Windows Mobile’s death “have been greatly exaggerated.”
It expects WinMo, the forgotten player in the platform wars, to triple sales in the next four years and return to the no.2 position.
The US research firm house predicts 67.9 million WinMo-based smartphones in 2013, up from 27.7 million in 2009. This would give the platform a 15.3% share of the global market behind Symbian’s 47.6%.
Although Windows Mobile is expected to fall to third position in the smartphone operating system market in 2009, the expected takeup would allow it to return to the second place it held in 2008 by 2012.
“Windows Mobile is facing a host of challenges, including rising competition from free alternatives like Symbian and Android, the loss of some key licensees and some shortcomings in its user interface,” said Tina Teng, senior wireless communications analyst for iSuppli. “However, Windows Mobile holds some major cards that will allow it to remain a competitive player in the market.”
Successful device platform players need “not only an operating system but also device support, an application store, a broad portfolio of applications and support from the developer community,” Teng said. “While Windows Mobile is losing some share to competitors in 2009, most of the alternatives cannot match Microsoft’s complete suite of offerings.”