Smartphone platforms in 2009

Developments planned for 2009

Between 2005 and 2008, more than 9 platforms developments have sprung, all taking advantage of the legacy of UNIX, an operating system created in 1969 by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs and refined over the years.

The dominant position of Symbian can partly be explained by the strenght of Nokia and the synergy between Motorola, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. In light of that, common sense suggests that open solo open projects are less likely to last than collaborative ones. So far, the strongest new ventures seem to be Android, LiMo and Moblin.

This randomly colourized timeline shows the relationships and influences between different developments. It shows a recent focus on the Linux kernel in 9 projects, sometimes complemented with GTK+ and/or Java.

iPhone Qt Extended Ubuntu Mobile Java FX Mobile Access Linux Platform Motomagx LiMo Android Midinux Mobilinux Maemo OpenMoko Symbian OS Windows Mobile BREW Blackberry OS



ALP (Access Linux Platform)

Initially released in February 2007 by Access Co. of Tokyo, Japan, ALP is often reffered to as the next-generation version of the Palm OS. Developed and marketed by Access Co., it draws from the GNOME project and features execution environments for Java, classic Palm OS, and GTK+ based native Linux applications.

Back to timeline


AndroidFounded by Google in November 2007, the Open Handset Alliance involves HTC, Intel, Motorola, Qualcomm, T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel and NVIDIA; and oversees development of an operating system based on the Linux kernel and running Java-like applications on mobile devices. The first Android-based phones built by HTC are expected to be available in stores in November 2008.

Back to timeline

Blackberry OS

BlackberryBlackberry is without question the most business-oriented OS of the lot. Companies can use their provider’s e-mail servers or run their own. RIM is working on a touchscreen Blackberry.

Back to timeline


BREWDebuted in September 2001, the Brew platform was created by Qualcomm to run as a layer between the application and the OS. Brew is found on Skype phones.

Back to timeline

iPhone OS

iPhoneExclusive to Apple Inc., the iPhone OS shares the Mach kernel with Mac OS X. Officially announced in January 2007, the product met with a huge commercial success upon release in June 2007. It was elected Invention of the Year in 2007 by Time magazine. By implementing a highly interactive interface, Apple Inc. took the mobile industry by surprise.

Back to timeline

JavaFX Mobile

JavaFXBased on Sun Microsystem’s Micro Edition, SavaJe OS was developed for advanced mobile phones in 1999. In April 2007, Sun Microsystems announced their intention to acquire SavaJe and has since included it in the JavaFX Mobile development.

Back to timeline


Founded in January 2007 by Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Samsung Electronics, Vodafone, LG Electronics, McAfee, Wind River and Verizon Wireless; it was later joined by the Mozilla Foundation. The Linux Mobile Foundation will co-develop a platform for mobile phones.

Back to timeline


MaemoMaemo, based on Debian GNU/Linux is developed by the Maemo Software department within Nokia and draws from the GNOME project. There has been a strong shift from the first to the third releases, leaving no place for backward or forward compatibility, so users are somehow weary of new releases.

Back to timeline


MidinuxStarted by Red Flag Software, this projects aims at providing a Linux platform for Mobile Internet Device vendors.

Back to timeline


Announced by MontaVista Software in April 2005, Mobilinux is based on the Linux kernel and has a record boot time of less than 1 second.

Back to timeline

Moblin (Ubuntu Mobile & Midinux)

Launched in July 2007 by Intel, Moblin defines compliance standards for Mobile Internet Devices with Intel Atom processors. Canonical is working on Ubuntu Mobile and Red Flag is working on Midinux.

Back to timeline


MotomagxAnnounced in August 2007, Motomagx is Motorola’s next platform combining Linux and Java.

Back to timeline


OpenMokoFounded by computer maker FIC, OpenMoko provides a Linux-based operating system developed for public domain hardware. The first supported phone, the Neo 1973, sold out between July 2007 and February 2008. The second generation, the FreeRunner, was released in June 2008. A third generation is under way, the GTA03.

Back to timeline

Qt Extended

Qt ExtendedDeveloped by the recently acquired Nokia subsidiary Qt Software, Qt Extended has been around for a decade prior to September 2008. Qt Extended already runs on several devices, including some Sharp Zaurus, the Sony mylo, the Archos Portable Media Assistant, the Greenphone, Pocket PC and OpenMoko phones. Qt Extended makes use of the Qt framework which has been used on products like KDE, Opera, Google Erath, Skype, Photoshop Elements, Keepass, Virtualbox and OPIE. Despite its maturity and the success of the Qt framework, Qt Extended has failed to pick momentum and make it to the mainstream.

Back to timeline

Symbian OS

SymbianFirst released in 1989, EPOC was renamed Symbian ten years later after a joint venture between Psion and phone manufacturers Ericsson, Motorola, and Nokia. Sony Ericsson, Panasonic and Samsung later joined. In June 2008, Nokia announced its intention to acquire all shares of Symbian

Back to timeline

Ubuntu Mobile

Ubuntu MobileDeveloped by Canonical, Ubuntu Mobile is meant to run on Intel’s Moblin platform.

Back to timeline

Windows Mobile

Windows MobileBased on the Microsoft Win32 API, Windows Mobile is a platform designed to run like desktop versions of windows ans feature a suite of basic applications.

Back to timeline