The dominance of Apple Inc.'s iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems could be about to weaken as several startups and projects have emerged that will shake up the smartphone scene in 2013.
From a band of cast-off Nokia Corp. employees to a giant like Microsoft, these groups have created platforms that could offer new devices, applications and services for consumers and more supplier choices for mobile operators.
Here's a rundown of the mobile OS challengers to watch this year:
Sailfish -- Based on the MeeGo OS, this platform was created by a group of ex-Nokia employees at the Finnish startup Jolla. The company unveiled the Sailfish OS and Jolla user interface in November 2012, which featured multitasking capabilities. Jolla plans to launch the first Sailfish-based device early in 2013. (See Nokia Refugees Revive MeeGo and One Giant Leap for MeeGo.)
Tizen -- Samsung and Intel led the project to develop this open-source, standards-based software platform that is a part of The Linux Foundation. The OS has support from mobile operators and device makers, including NTT Docomo Inc., Orange SA, Sprint, Telefonica, Vodafone Group plc and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.. The latest update was in September 2012 when the Tizen 2.0 alpha source code and SDK were made available. Tizen allows developers to use HTML5 so that applications can run on different devices. The OS is not only for smartphones but also for tablets, netbooks, in-vehicle devices and smart TVs.
Ubuntu -- U.K.-based Canonical is the company behind the Linux-based Ubuntu platform, and it announced a new mobile operating system at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month. With the new OS, Ubuntu aims to bring the desktop PC experience to high-end as well as entry-level smartphones. Devices running the OS are expected in early 2014.
Windows Phone â€“ Microsoft's mobile OS has probably been eyeing a third-place spot behind Google and Apple for the longest time compared to the other challengers on our list. Nokia, the platform's biggest device maker, started the year with some good news for its Windows-based Lumia smartphones: The Finnish company shipped 4.4 million Lumias in the fourth quarter of 2012, which is better than it had expected.
But Nokia isn't the only fan of Windows Phone, and the newer version Windows Phone 8. Other manufacturers for this platform include HTC, Huawei and Samsung.
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