The future of the OS market: verticality, scalability and freedom

Published on August 21, 2009

The future of the OS market: verticality, scalability and freedom

    On Habré they already shot at the new Nokia N900 (it is also technically called RX-51) with the Maemo 5 OS, the own name of the Fremantle OS (on the Linux kernel). The review, to which both Habr and all English-language sources refer, was written by Eldar Murtazin - he managed to be the first in the world. The review personally does not impress me like a fake, and I tend to believe the author and the declared TTX of this tablet.

    I would like to express a couple of my thoughts and talk not about the device or even about Nokia, but about the future of the OS as a whole, in connection with the fait accompli - the advent of the N900. About the near future. Maybe dream. Do not judge strictly and do not immediately throw rags, let it be science fiction or cyberpunk.

    With whom else to discuss, if not with you? I would be grateful for all reasoned considerations at the expense of our future in connection with the declared principle of "vertical OS".

    The most impressive event in connection with the appearance of information about the N900 for me is the funeral of the Symbian OS, specifically the Symbian S60. Under the pressure of incontrovertible facts, we are forced to admit that Nokia really merges its brainchild, Symbian, completely. With the release of the N900, Maemo, that is, Linux, becomes its flagship. To make such a decision (and give Sybian to the Symbian Foundation), of course, was not easy - in Symbian, 20 million lines of code and years of labor and investment. I also feel sorry for him - it is S60 in my full-keyboard smartphone, and I generally like him - for its simplicity, adequacy, practicality, speed and reliability, low system requirements.

    The reasons for the refusal were not immediate market benefits, but Nokia’s good understanding of the structure of the upcoming radical redistribution of the OS market in 2010. Sorry for the long quote, I have to quote it to understand the author’s argument:

    “In this situation, the price becomes the driving force for S60, devices will become noticeably cheaper in the fall of 2010, devices on Maemo will become flagships, and Sony Ericsson’s S60 smartphones are on the market , only this manufacturer will fight for the smartphone market using S60, the company does not have opportunities for developing the Linux direction, although it is actively negotiating with a number of players, trying to find a compromise solution and create its own vertical OS. So far, to no avail.
    In a similar situation for smartphones on Nokia Maemo, there is a big time lag with competitors. In fact, we can say that only Nokia and Apple have the same solutions in 2010-2012, which will allow them to increase their market share in this segment. For Samsung, time is a bit lost, but due to marketing tricks it will not be so noticeable. Already today widgets are distributed not only on phones, but also on netbooks, the integration of interface elements will continue. But the appearance of a full-fledged scalable vertical OS can not be called. For LG, there is no prospect in this direction, the companies do not recognize the market trend, they are just beginning to see the outlines of the future market. In Sony Ericsson the problem period, the company lost two years, the new management will clearly spend about a year on the reorganization the manufacturer will be able to enter the race no earlier than mid-2010, and the results will be visible in 2011-2012, when Google, Nokia, Apple will already be in full measure of strength in this market. For the first time, companies integrate services, software, devices into one vertical, we can arbitrarily call this market vertical. This is the main difference from previous years, the paradigm is changing. The market becomes vertical, devices are interconnected by a single OS, but their technical characteristics and sizes differ.
    I hope that such a “short” story allowed you to understand why Nokia chose Linux / Maemo as the OS for the future vertical market. ”

    Murtazin introduces the concept of a“ vertical OS ”, suitable, with minimal modifications, to work on the player, phone, PDA, netbook and desktop. According to him, today Apple has such a platform, with the release of the N900 - Nokia, and slowly working, but creating a bridgehead for its complete victory in this direction Google.

    (Microsoft has still not gotten into the 2010 market situation and therefore is losing the track today. Their solutions for windows Mobile 6.5 (as well as 7, 7.5, and 8) show it clearly. They don’t know how and do not want to be ahead of the trends , they don’t want to risk money - and therefore have already lost. Samsung simply lagged behind. The rest of the market participants either irreparably lagged or do not have the potential to independently (outside the alliances) cover this range of devices.)

    In fact, in this field, especially in the high-end market smartphones, according to Murtazin, in the 2010-2012 game only Apple and Nokia catching up with it literally yesterday were in full force.

    I would not agree with this assessment. In my opinion, Google will actively invade here and shake the market in mid-2010. The main reference points for this entry are
    - massive, in many lines and with many manufacturers, entry into the Android device market in the fall of 2009. Many manufacturers launch many Android devices at once.
    - the release of Android 2.0, the appearance on the market of devices on it
    - the release of Chrome OS, snapshots of which will appear in 2009, and in mid-2010 netbooks (googlobuki) with pre-installed Chrome OS are already ready for sale. Accordingly, the entire network infrastructure of Google to support this OS, its applications will be ready for this on the server side.
    Given the extremely low prices for small android devices and the expected low prices for googlobuki in 2010, we expect this to blow up the market. In addition, Apple did not try to enter the netbook market, did not master the MID niche, did not make an Internet Tablet PC, or PMP with a large screen (or, say, a projector, like the Chinese). Apple slushik focused on his favorite toys - MacBook, iPod, iTouch. In his position, a huge hole gapes in the center.

    Google will fill it in the first place - the appearance on the shelves of Google Google Chrome OS. If this happens on time and they are expected to be cheap - the mass market will be all of it.

    Let's not forget that Chrome Os is built on the Linux kernel and is an open system. Googlobuki will be completely compatible with everything with which it is possible both on iron, and on software: it will be possible to put any other Linux on them, on the one hand. It will cost the Chinese nothing to stamp cheap googlobukov ideally compatible with Chrome OS, and to preinstall it on the other.

    All this is very good for further progress. And reliably guarantees us from Apple prices in this breakthrough segment.

    Why am I saying that Murtazin introduces the concept of "vertical OS"? Because Google does not find such a stable term in relevant literature. Apparently, he invented himself.

    I am not a supporter of the multiplication of entities unnecessarily. It is much more correct, in my opinion, to use the concept of OS scalability. Already about 12 years ago, there was obviously good scalability of Unix systems available on desktops, in particular, such as Linux and BSD, and useless Windows scalability.

    Scalability is an OS feature that allows you to use it in systems of any scale. From high-performance server systems to desktops that manage the production or transport of computers, MIDs, laptops, netbooks, PDAs, smartphones and communicators, to e-books, PMPs, refrigerators and microwaves.

    It is easy to see that over the 14 years since the emergence on the PC of a full-fledged Windows OS (I mean Windows 95, since 3.11 was not an OS, but a shell), Windows, with great difficulty, was able to master a serious server segment - without making up, however , Unix competition for systems supporting the Internet infrastructure. The expansion down, by now, has failed. On the player and e-book, on the ARM processor, modern Windows does not scale in principle, this is the direction that Microsoft has leaked. For ARM netbooks, MS has nothing but Windows CE.

    It so happened that in 2009 sales of expensive desktops and especially expensive desktop OSs were falling, and the market for PMP, smartphones, communicators, netbooks, tablets flourishes, despite the crisis. Scalable free (and also proprietary) OSs are growing.

    I’ll venture to make a prediction: in the very near future we will face a turning point in the OS market. The 14-year-old era of Microsoft’s monopoly will end. The era of diversity will come. On the one hand, there will become a really massive market for a variety of devices that go online - keyboard and keyboardless, fit and not fit in your pocket, universal and specialized. On the other hand, hardware manufacturers will finally begin to think about compatibility of their hardware not only with Windows XP and Windows Vista. They will see the light and see, at least, the OSes from Google. And this, in turn, will ensure the compatibility of all this hardware with the Linux kernel, and therefore, greater freedom for the user - he can easily install on the purchased netbook and Chrome, and (mom!) Android, and Maemo, and Debian, and Touch OS, and Xubuntu or Kubuntu of any modification. And he wants to - install Windows. Freedom!

    It seems to me that this is more than in our interests. Personally, I like this future.

    Companies that offer scalable OSs (and solutions for and for these OSs) will begin to grow on the market. The deciding factor will be the scale down from the desktop and laptop. And those who do not offer will lose their positions. (I think Windows 7 will fail in the coming months in the same way that Vista failed - without the noise and crackle, but it won’t raise the expected money.)

    The second feature, along with the freedom to choose the OS, is the freedom to choose the platform. ARM tablets and netbooks for under $ 400I am personally very interested. The logic is simple: not everyone needs a desktop, especially if you are mobile and move a lot around the city and the planet. On the other hand, there are many people who have both a desktop and a laptop, but they need other devices, and they are willing to pay for them provided that they have the proper consumer properties, their needs, and the right price. Everyone has different needs. I am an IT specialist, I have two desktops with Xubuntu, a full-keyboard smartphone with Symbian, an e-book based on the Linux kernel, PMP. My wife, mathematician and psychotherapist, netbook and PMP. The daughter, a linguist, has a large laptop with Windows Vista, and a lightweight netbook with Windows XP, as well as PMP.

    Human needs are mobile and vary greatly from work, lifestyle and place of residence: for example, now there is a mass trend of replacing old ugly desktops such as an "iron box" with a Nettop and a game console at home. Now, when the niche of desktop computers is a little more than saturated, development should go and go along the path of greater flexibility, greater specialization and greater freedom of choice for the user. In full accordance with Toffler, by the way. The crisis only added an extra kick in this situation, which was already unstable balancing on the edge. Trends are natural, and it just had to happen.

    In the struggle of open and closed scalable OSs very quickly (much faster than in 14 years) open ones will start to win. And here I would put on Linux, the Linux kernel, and hardware compatible with the Linux kernel - and not on Apple. Apple will remain an expensive niche product with a great design.

    We will stop arguing - which is better, Windows or Linux. Because this argument will lose its meaning. We will not argue about the advantages of platforms - someone will stay behind a large keyboard, someone with a small one, and someone will point a finger at the virtual one, that’s the whole difference. There will come an era of specialization and improvements in each individual niche: electronic books on electronic paper will improve - so that they are even more pleasant to read than paper books. Game consoles and nettops will improve, computers will appear on the TV andhome phones with internet . Smartphones and communicators on different platforms will compete to better fulfill their core function within their budget niche. Fierce competition will aggravate the struggle for supply at ever lower prices.

    And all these trends are damn good.

    And just business is in the initially correct architectural solution of the OS, assuming easy scalability, including the separation of the core and the graphics subsystem.

    These are the thoughts prompted by the N900 review that appeared yesterday. I don’t know if I put these thoughts correctly here, in the OS - and not in PDA, Smartphones or Netbooks. But I know for sure that it makes sense to discuss essentially it is here, on Habré.