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Will Legacy Smartphone Platforms Keep-up with iPhone and Android? August 25, 2009

Posted by hruf in Mobile & Gadgets.
Tags: , , , , , ,

[BlackBerry OS, Windows Mobile and Symbian/S60 were designed years ago – the traditional strengths of these software platforms are rapidly becoming liabilities in the fast-paced smartphone market. Guest blogger Michael Vakulenko answers a critical question: are user interface face-lifts, application stores or even going open source enough for the legacy smartphone platforms to stand-up to the challenges posed by iPhone and Android?][…]

The unprecedented success of iPhone changed market requirements almost overnight; today smartphones are all about smooth delivery of digital content, applications and Web 2.0 services.[…]

iPhone and Android
While technically very different, iPhone and Android share many common traits.

  1. designed as true multi-purpose devices fulfilling a wide spectrum of business and personal use cases.
  2. user interface of these software platforms relies on relatively large touch-screens with gesture-based controls, designed for device personalization, easy discovery, delivery and consumption of content, application and services.
  3. Downloadable applications further extend the spectrum of possibilities with the device
  4. iPhone and Android offer software development environments allowing fast and easy creation of wide array of novel applications (from music instrument to location-based collaboration etc.)
  5. High-speed 3G networks and Wi-Fi connectivity finally brought Web applications to mobile devices with state of the art web-browser, which constantly improving support for emerging HMTL5

There is wide gap between modern and legacy smartphone platforms in all these areas, calling for radical improvements to the legacy platforms. This gap cannot be closed by just user interface face-lifts, launching application stores or even going open source.[…]


BlackBerry is a closed platform tightly integrated with BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). For example, there are six different methods for an application to open up an Internet connection[…]

Taking the BlackBerry platform out of its natural habitat of corporate messaging stretches capabilities of the architecture. Without significant improvements and openness in application and Web services frameworks, BlackBerry will find it difficult to complete with iPhone and Android outside of its established customer target segment.

Windows Mobile

Upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 (Windows Phone by its new moniker) promises much-needed user interface improvements and a better Web browser. Unfortunately, the new version of Windows Mobile is still based on the same outdated version of Windows CE kernel, which was responsible for the lack of stability and responsiveness plaguing previous versions of the platform. Windows CE 5 limits applications to 32MB of memory per application and is restricted to 32 total processes in the system.

The Windows Mobile application environment is based on WIN32 and .NET Compact programming interfaces. While well understood and supported by software developers, these programming interfaces represent scaled-down versions of interfaces designed for Windows on PC. This environment is too complex and outdated compared to modern programming and mobile application paradigms.

Presumably, the next major Windows Mobile version will leverage know-how gained by Microsoft with the acquisition of Danger, and provide long-term response from Microsoft to smartphone challenges. The big question is when will it come to the market?[…]


[…]Symbian/S60 offers multiple choices for application developers: Native Symbian code, J2ME, Flash Lite, Web Runtime and even Python scripting. None of these choices is great by itself – each has its own limitations and compatibility issues. Native programming has a steep learning curve and unnecessary complex signing procedures, while J2ME and the Web Runtime are too limited for modern applications.[…]

Moreover, Nokia’s decision to open Symbian/S60 source has stalled development of the platform. It will be very difficult for Nokia and its partners to make major improvements to the platform in parallel to moving the platform to an open source model.

iPhone and Android set new standards and, at least in the medium term, will continue to lead the way in all major areas of smartphone software. There are no quick fixes for legacy platforms and it will take considerable time and massive R&D resources for RIM, Microsoft and Nokia to break from limitations of their product architectures and legacy code.

via VisionMobile :: blog :: Will Legacy Smartphone Platforms Keep-up with iPhone and Android?.



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