Device operating systems

OS Watch: Google Shuns the Wireless Operators

When Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) announced its plan to acquire Motorola Mobility LLC , other handset makers were worried that Motorola would get priority Android treatment from its new parent company. But perhaps it's the mobile operators that should be worried about being shunned. (See Google Plays Favorites With Moto Buy.)

Google plans to provide a number of handset makers early access to new releases of the Android OS and then sell the resulting devices directly to the public, sources tell The Wall Street Journal. In the past, Google has chosen one handset maker to make a "lead device" that runs a pure form of Android not yet released to others, so this multi-vendor partner approach marks a strategy shift for the online giant. (See Google Unlocks a Nexus Phone (Again).)

But it also means the handset makers wouldn't need to market their devices through carrier channels as they have done historically: The operators, potentially, could be cut out of the equation.

The WSJ also suggests that Google will have its Jelly Bean OS ready for these direct sales devices by Thanksgiving (fourth quarter).

In other mobile OS news:

  • Frag watch: Some may think Android fragmentation is a blessing for the choice it brings, while others -- including developers -- see it as a curse. Either way, it's a very real phenomenon. OpenSignalMaps' latest report tracked 681,900 Android users that downloaded its software and identified 3,997 distinct devices built by 599 different brands. Samsung Corp. is by far the market leader, capturing 40 percent of the market, and the Galaxy SII was the most popular device. (See Android: More Than One Way to Skin an OS? and Google Compels Operators to Ease Fragmentation.)

    Android Brands by OS Market Share

  • Windows Phone's tiny market grab: It's bad news for Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Windows Phone OS this week as Gartner Inc. finds it ranks lower than bada in terms of market share. Windows Phone capture only 1.9 percent of the global smartphone market, while bada came in at 2.7 percent. Both were beaten by market stragglers Symbian and BlackBerry . Android accounted for half of smartphone sales, according to the analyst firm.

    Table 1: Worldwide Smartphone Sales by OS in 1Q 2012 (thousands of units)
    Operating System 1Q12 1Q12 Market Share (%) 1Q11 1Q11 Market Share (%)
    �Units �Units
    Android 81,067.4 56.1 36,350.1 36.4
    iOS 33,120.5 22.9 16,883.2 16.9
    Symbian 12,466.9 8.6 27,598.5 27.7
    Research In Motion 9,939.3 6.9 13,004.0 13
    Bada 3,842.2 2.7 1,862.2 1.9
    Microsoft 2,712.5 1.9 2,582.1 2.6
    Others 1,242.9 0.9 1,495.0 1.5
    Total 144,391.7 100 99,775.0 100
    Source: Gartner (May 2012)

  • UK government OKs BlackBerry: RIM's government stronghold is extending to the U.K., where the government’s electronic security group, CESG, has approved it for government and law enforcement use. Neither Android nor Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) have received this stamp of approval. (See Feds Approve BlackBerry.)

  • Developer frenzy ahead: Apple, Google and Microsoft are holding back-to-back developer events in San Francisco during June, which means we'll get a sneak peek of what's next for the three OSs. Light Reading sister company InformationWeek gives a good rundown of what to expect from all three shindigs. Get ready for a big month in the OS world!

    — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

  • Flook 12/5/2012 | 5:32:41 PM
    re: OS Watch: Google Shuns the Wireless Operators

    Could be this is not about Google retailing Android phones or cutting out the operators. If this strategy establishes Google phone as a standard (in terms of overwhelming market share), then imagine what that kind of control could do for many of the other parts of Google. It's almost scary! (or i'm being paranoid:-(

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