Fossils don't fit in the new mobile world

28 June 2013 by Steve Blum
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Blackberry and Windows are the bedrock of the mobile world.

A year from now, this past week will be looked upon as the point when we shifted from one mobile operating system epoch to another. Two dinosaurs – Blackberry and Windows – appear irrecoverably stuck in a tar pit of tumbling market share and industry confidence, while two warm-blooded open source upstarts – Ubuntu Linux and Firefox – are walking tall.

Blackberry’s latest results show widening financial and subscriber losses. After CEO Thorsten Heins proclaimed “we are confident in the ongoing success of our transformation in the coming years,” the share price plummeted. The only question remaining for Wall Street analysts is exactly which hallucinogen he favors and where can they get some.

With Microsoft reduced to promising that the next version of Windows, due out this fall, will suck a lot less, Samsung unveiled a tablet that can run both it and Android. Just in case Steve Balmer nibbles a bad shroom the next time he trips through the Washington woods.

Mozilla and Canonical, on the other hand, talked this week about deals with major mobile carriers as, respectively, Firefox Mobile and Ubuntu Touch, move from development to implementation. The breakout for Firefox phones looks likely to happen in the spanish speaking world as Telefonica prepares to launch devices in its markets. Ubuntu isn’t nearly as far along, but several big European and all three major Korean carriers have joined an advisory group to prepare for its introduction in coming months.

Firefox, a light client that relies almost completely on server-side support, and Ubuntu Linux, which aims to be the single, unifying operating system for phones, tablets, computers, televisions and other consumer devices, are targeting the thick and thin ends of the spectrum. Android and iOS sit comfortably in the middle, leaving no room for twentieth century thunder lizards.