According to ABI research, Linux will be the dominating operating system on Mobile devices by 2015:

"The number of recent Linux-oriented initiatives in the mobile industry attests to the fact that Linux will be a key technology in the next-generation of netbooks, media tablets, and mobile Internet devices (MIDs). Led by both Google’s Chrome OS and Google’s Android, the growth of Linux-enabled mobile devices will outstrip the growth of total mobile devices, and will comprise 62% of the operating systems shipping in all mobile devices by 2015."

This is a very interesting forecast which has spin-off effects for the rest of the Linux world. If a  user is running "Linux" on their cellphone, there's firstly a lot more awareness of Linux based desktop operating systems and secondly, a greater chance that they'd be prepared to try a Linux flavour on their desktop. Finally, if Linux desktop usage achieves the required critical mass, there will be a much larger availibility of applications for Linux (both open source as well as proprietary). With the widespread adoption of the Linux kernel on various devices, contributions to the kernel are coming from many different sources. It's no longer only work done by a few "hackers" sitting at home - it's now really big corporates. With many mobile operating systems including Google Android running on a slight modification of the standard Linux kernels, I'm sure there will upstream contributions, ensuring an even better OS for mobile, desktop and server Linux OS's. With so many role players (and big ones at that), I can't fail to see how this wont end up being the dominant operating system over all spheres.

The future I see for the IT world of the future is one of a Linux kernel for most devices and a mix of open source and proprietary software running on top. Standards are becoming more and more important in every area which must be "owned" by everyone. Until now many standards have been defined in terms of protocols, but I see the actual operating system kernel as a potential "standard". The writing is pretty much on the wall for the Microsoft Mobile OS, unless Windows Phone 7 can change this. In the same way that Mac's were one of the leading players, their market share has dropped off significantly over the past 20 years to somewhere between 5% and 6%. The long time use of the PowerPC processor has been eventually dropped for the more widely used Intel based processors. One advantage for Microsoft at this point, is the interoperability of their software and devices which they have leveraged very effectively in the past (see the history of Word/Office, Internet Explorer etc.). Users are probably less likely to want to change devices unless it is supported by their laptop, XBox, tablet PC and coffee machine. Unless Windows Phone 7 is out of this world, I feel that it will just be a matter of time before Microsoft will have to concede the mobile market, however I doubt that it would be a sudden switch over - change takes time.

As a wild question, would Microsoft ever move over to Linux kernel if they realised that they were in a loosing battle???


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