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.,
- Texting (using voice to text or with assistance)
- 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)