And The Third Smartphone Ecosystem Will Be…

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam

The idea that the market can bear a third successful smartphone OS has been bandied about a fair bit, but the source is not often cited. It was Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam who, way back in September of 2011, introduced this idea to tech bloggers who, in turn, picked up and ran with it.

The direct quote:

“The carriers are beginning to coalesce around the need for a third ecosystem… Over the next 12 months I think it will coalesce and you will start to see one emerge as a legitimate third ecosystem.”

At that time the race for third was between BlackBerry and Windows Phone; two years later this still looks to be the case, albeit with a few new contenders at least.

In my short time here as a front-page blogger I’ve had the opportunity to spend some quality time with at least three of the third-place contenders  — BlackBerry (in its latest incarnation), Firefox OS and Windows Mobile. The somewhat ambitious goal for today is to crown a winner.

Here, as I see it, are the points for and against each platform:

BlackBerry

BB10 Peek

Unique Selling Points:

  • BlackBerry Enterprise Service
  • BlackBerry Hub
  • Physical QWERTY Keypad on the Q10

Challenges:

  • Currently Trailing Windows Phone
  • Unclear Future for Company

Firefox OS

Home Screen 1

Unique Selling Points:

  • OS-Wide “Do Not Track”
  • Runs Well on Low-End Hardware
  • Low Barrier for Developers

Challenges:

  • Limited Hardware
  • Limited Availability
  • Limited Interest

Windows Phone

Lumia Start Screen

Unique Selling Points:

  • Exchange Integration
  • Flat “Metro” UI
  • Xbox Integration

Challenges:

  • Flagship OEM (Nokia) bought by Microsoft (could be good or bad)
  • Limited Third-Party OEMs

Other Would-be Contenders

Hardware running these platforms isn’t shipping in any significant way, so for now they’re out of the race.

And The Winner Is…

At the moment, the numbers say Windows Phone. IDC pegs its Q3 2013 market share at 3.6%, versus 1.7% for BlackBerry.

But I’m far more interested in what you think. The race is still too early to call, and those IDC numbers don’t necessarily reflect the more advanced users present on these forums. Amirite?

As our friends in the U.S. are enjoying a holiday weekend, I will invite them — and you — to stand and be counted with your smartphone OS of choice, via a reply to this thread. And feel free to add any USP I may have missed.

This freedom beard will get things started with a vote for Firefox OS, as I’m fairly certain that nobody else will. 😉

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