How contemporary mobile platforms wither

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As the end of 2017 approaches, it is clear that the mobile world is a two platform world. As the losers of the smartphone wars wither and die, this is how they go: with a whimper.

  • Symbian
  • PalmOS
  • WebOS
  • BlackBerry OS
  • BlackBerry OS 10
  • Windows Mobile
  • Windows Phone
  • Firefox OS
  • Ubuntu Mobile OS/Unity

The list of loses is long. The innovation and creativity lost in the above platforms is tragic. However, when development of the platforms stops, users of the platform linger on for a while. Years sometimes.

How do these platforms actually die out? Hardware failure is always part, new features and services that aren’t on these platforms, for sure, but API changes and code rot are the most insidious culprits. Standardization and open protocols are the only solution that I can think of.

My most recent example that prompted this: I love BlackBerry OS 10. It was the combination of the best ideas of BlackBerry OS and WebOS bundled with great hardware and even Made in Canada! I was with it long after BlackBerry itself moved to Android and ultimately exited the hardware business altogether. It’s sad, I don’t really like my shiny new(ish) iPhone as much as I enjoyed using BB OS 10, but such is life. Things change.

Even though I’ve been using my iPhone for a year now, I still use the Passport SE for writing and a few other things. Much to my surprise today, I found that the awesome Dropbox integration it boasted stopped working at the end of September. Why? Because Dropbox changed their API and BlackBerry hasn’t updated their software. Honestly, I don’t expect them to. How could this have been avoided? If there was a spec that Dropbox integrated (Say, webDAV) that BlackBerry could have used to implement their Dropbox integration.

IMAP, SMTP, HTTP, DNS, webDAV, CalDAV, CardDAV, SMB, XMPP, even ActiveSync. These standard, documented protocols are why mail, the web, shared calendars, file sharing, etc. still work well after the platforms that were used to develop these protocols stop being relevant. We need large companies to implement and create new standards that present and future platforms can implement. If we fail to demand this, we will be creating an even more transient, disposable computing ecosystem.

We need to demand this as customers and users of emerging platforms.




GoSaBe Blog - Oct 3, 2017 | BlackBerry, Hardware, Linux, Security, Web Standards