Mobile Operating System Trends
Operating systems didn’t become “products” in the traditional sense until Microsoft ushered in the Windows/Intel era in the mid 1990s. Since then, the business world has been fairly evenly split between Windows on the desktop and a combination of Windows and UNIX-like servers in the IT department.
Now, in the era of the mobile device, businesspeople have yet another choice to make, and that is what operating system to carry with them on a mobile device. How will that choice affect their technology capabilities at the office and in their entrepreneurial ambitions?
What Windows did more than anything else was provide a consistent platform for software developers to provide better functionality to end users. Many contend that stable platform led to the explosion in technology share prices in the mid to late 1990s. Products like Office and Visual Basic turned everyone into business solution providers.
Mobile operating systems like Android and iOS took this to heart and made it possible for nearly anyone to make software for mobile phones and tablets. There are many options available to developers, which explains why there are so many popular and successful apps on mobile devices.
E-mail was and remains the killer application of the Internet. Texting, which is e-mail’s younger and quicker relative, has become the application for mobile operating systems. The speed and efficiency of instant communications is what drives business in the 21st century. The reason for this is obvious.
Customers simply do not have the patience to wait for the old village baker to make their donuts. They want everything right now. A business that delivers everything right now is the one that has the best chance of keeping the market’s attention. Instant communications are the key to making that happen. Mobile operating systems, by and large, focus their technology on facilitating that kind of instant activity.
Desktops and servers traditionally have invested most of their security efforts in preventing “break-ins” and intruders from the outside installing viruses, trojans and rootkits.
Because of the nature of the mobile device, users of phones and tablets have had the opposite problem. They are not trying to prevent break-ins as much as they are trying to prevent someone from making off with the entire device and then stealing the data on it.
Mobile operating device manufacturers and developers of operating systems have responded by installing biometric identification systems for logins and providing users with the ability to encrypt their data so even if a phone or tablet is lost, the data remains secure.
In the first 20 years of the Internet, operating systems went from an obscure technical field of study to a mass produced product not all that different from washing machines, cars and patio furniture. Everyone has their favorite brand and everyone has a story to tell about how their particular choice, good or bad, helped or hindered their enjoyment of their mobile devices. One thing we can be certain of is that operating system development will remain one of the foundations of retail technology for quite some time.