Feature And RTOS, The Phones India Will Still Need For Long

Smartphone sales growth was very impressive in last year and in the first quarter of 2009 too, while the total mobile phone sales dropped around 8.6% globally Smartphone sales surpassed 36.4 million units, a 12.6% increase from the same period last year, Gartner reports.

Now increasingly more number of ODM’s and OEM’s are eyeing the smartphone businesses and turning to the smartphone OS’es like Symbian, Android and Moblin, besides Apple’s MAC which is not licensable by other’s. What makes this market all the more interesting is the competition between device manufacturers slowly turning into a war between opensource Mobile OS‘es.


Rightly pointed out by Ben Hookway on Visionmobile, amid all this adrenaline rush created by Google, Intel and Nokia, nobody talks about the other 85% of the market contributed by feature and RTOS phones.

If you don’t know already-
RTOS is an abbreviation for Real Time Operating system, which is a multitasking operating system intended for real-time applications. Feature phones use RTOS and the key player’s in this market are Mentor Graphics’ Nucleus.
and ENEA’s OSE and WindRiver’s VxWork, find out more about Mobile Operating systems here.

So the question now is, if the growth of Smartphones and MIDs signaling the death of feature and RTOS phones? Not quite true, apart from economics for ODM’s working in favor of RTOS feature phones India will stay big for feature phones, why?

Because Rural India needs feature phones.

Earlier Adaptivepath, a product design company after a research on rural India came out with a Mobile device concept, Steampunk. Adaptivepath listed out the most Important features required for this market  in their concept,Viz.,

  • Calling
  • Texting (using voice to text or with assistance)
  • Music
  • Camera
  • Microphone
  • Speaker
  • Airtime
  • Battery Level

Apart from these features, with increased adaption of VAS services for the rural markets, mobile phones for this market will be needing easily accessible information over GPRS, and all these already exist on feature phones and RTOS is capable of handling increased computing needs for this niche.

Now the math is pretty straight even with a wildly exaggerated assumption of Smartphones to eventually grab a 10% of mobile phone market share in India, rest 90% will be dominated by feature phones for significant amount of time. So even if the rest of the world’s market’s are captured by Smartphone OS’s India will still need feature phones with RTOS for long.

(Edited by Abhishek Kapoor)

8 Responses to “Feature And RTOS, The Phones India Will Still Need For Long”

  1. Nirvan
    July 28, 2009 at 12:24 pm #

    Bad post. Makes no point. RTOS is an extremely internal detail. Very technical, and something that the end consumer couldn’t care less about. No idea why was that term in the title of the post. RTOS or no-RTOS, India needs more basic phones – full stop.

    And if you must know, RTOS is used in some very critical applications pertaining to military and medical. Certain elements of a mobile operating system have always been real-time. They have to. Your post fail to make any point.

    Useless article.

    Man, I miss posts by Harshil and Ankit

  2. July 28, 2009 at 12:28 pm #

    Hi Nirvan,
    Thanks for the comment, Please read the article once again :)

  3. ABc
    July 28, 2009 at 1:04 pm #

    @Nirvan – Lol. Looks like the author REALLY wants the RTOS to be in news. ;) Guess he’s got ‘vested interest’ in it. Seriously – didn’t get the point.

    @Pradeep – Your bio says you have interest in ‘Social Psychology’, but the way you replied to Nirvan’s comment doesn’t looks anyhing like that. Learn to take criticism, kiddo.

  4. July 28, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    @ABC true actually one of my interest in writing this was I wanted RTOS to be in news and besides I just wanted to make a point about how RTOS is going to stay for a while in India, I am not sure about everywhere else because there’s a possibility that RTOS on mobile may die.

    and just want to know why don’t you people reveal your identities??, It’s perfectly OK to criticize as long as it is constructive!!

  5. Nirvan
    July 28, 2009 at 6:22 pm #

    @Pradeep – I am able to grasp the article the first time itself. What about it? What’s your point?

  6. July 28, 2009 at 9:20 pm #


    It was pointed out by Ben Hookway(previously CEO of NextDevice, now mentor) that media exaggeratedly reported the smartphone OS’es will eclipse RTOS market and RTOS will eventually die, I extended it that even if economics eventually workout for smartphone OS’es and RTOS for mobile dies,it will stay longer in Indian market.

  7. July 28, 2009 at 11:27 pm #

    @Pradeep – Mixed emotions. Glad to see a hard-core tech topic in the title. But, the post was not really about it, was it ? See, I don’t think anyone needs to worry about the state of the RT-OS. RT-OS are not going anywhere. We need them. As long as we will have mission critical applications (please note that I DO NOT mean web applications here), we will continue to have Real-Time Operating Systems.

    Now as pointed out by you , with 85% share, the so called ‘feature’ phones aren’t going away anytime soon. It’s just that the OS or interface of these phones don’t get written about in the media too much. But then, its not meant to be either. Media loves glitz and hype. They love ‘high-tech’ (even if they don’t understand it doesn’t gets any high-tech than a RTOS ), so it’s actually not a surprise that nobody is talking about the basic mobile phone models. Apart from sales numbers, there is nothing to talk about it. Basic mobile phones have become commodity – and commerce is the only variable there. Yes – ofcourse this nowhere suggests that RTOS is dead – where did you read that? I doubt many so-called tech-bloggers (ahemm) have even heard of RTOS. I think we both can chill here.

    The point of the post was lost on the reader ‘coz you did not explain the implication to the end user. I read the link to Ben Hookway’s write up – and I find the fears unfounded. RTOS is here to stay. Just that media is too dumb to understand them – let alone report them. And yeah, India needs a lot of them. No, not dumb media, I meant the baseband-chip mobile phones – ;)

  8. July 29, 2009 at 12:39 am #

    Thanks for the comment. I agree,should have written the post for the end user here.

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