AH Tech Talk: Is This The End Of The Road For BlackBerry OS?

Data analysis and market research firm Strategy Analytics has just published it's latest report regarding the worldwide smartphone market dynamics in the third quarter of this calendar year, titled, "Global Smartphone OS Market Share by Region: Q3 2015". According to the report, the global smartphone market grew 10 percent in Q3, 2015, on a year-on-year basis. While most of the findings of the report are along expected lines, including the growth of Android and iOS at the expense of Windows, BlackBerry and Firefox, the one interesting aspect that has caught the eye of many is the growing traction for the fledgling mobile operating platform - Tizen. The OS is currently only being promoted by Samsung Electronics, as the company makes its 'Gear' range of smartwatches based on it, but almost all its smartphones over the past several years have been based on Android, ever since the company ditched its Bada operating system several years ago, in favor of the world's most popular mobile operating platform.

While Samsung executives were smart enough to know which way the wind was blowing, and decided to go with the flow rather than trying to swim against the tide, other companies like Nokia and BlackBerry steadfastly held onto their dying operating systems - Symbian and BB OS respectively - rather than try and accept the inevitable. Nokia of course, chose to ditch Symbian and embraced the Windows Mobile platform back in 2011 (known as Windows Phone back then), once it realized the Symbian era was all but over; a decision resulting in the mobile division of the company losing money for years before it was finally sold off to Microsoft for a pittance. BlackBerry meanwhile, took even longer to see the writing on the wall, and it was only a few days back that the company unveiled its very first Android-powered handset, called the BlackBerry Priv.

While the Canadian smartphone company refuses to publicly acknowledge that its native, home-grown operating system BB OS might be on its last legs, BlackBerry's ferociously dedicated and loyal user base have been deserting it by the droves for years now, and if the latest report from Strategy Analytics is anything to go by, the BlackBerry operating system has now, for the first time ever, slid down below Tizen as a smartphone operating system. Tizen of course, isn't even being pushed that hard by Samsung, and the company has thus far released only a couple of entry-level smartphones in India over the past couple of years, like the Samsung Z last year, with a follow-up called Samsung Z1 this year, neither of which managed to make a meaningful impact seeing as the company didn't even market the devices in any way whatsoever. According to Strategy Analytics though, it is now this fledgling mobile platform that has more users than BlackBerry's native operating system. Coupled with the fact that the company is now investing its time money and energy in a rival mobile platform, it's leading many to wonder aloud whether it is time for the Canadian company to give its in-house smartphone operating system a dignified burial rather than going through the ignominy faced by Symbian.

For the uninitiated, Tizen is a Linux kernel-based open-source operating system within the non-profit Linux Foundation, and is governed by a Technical Steering Group (TSG) that includes the likes of Intel, Huawei, Panasonic, Vodafone, Sprint, Orange and the like, alongside Samsung. While the platform has a long way to go as a smartphone OS, it does have a respectable market share in the wearables segment, thanks to the 'Gear' range of smartwatches from Samsung, all of which, bar one, come with the OS pre-installed. Tizen already has some popular and well-known apps and services available on it, including Facebook, VLC Media Player and MixRadio. However, in an effort to attract even more developers to the platform, Samsung is also choosing not to charge developers a percentage of their app revenues. Google and Apple typically charge developers around 30 percent of their revenues for purchases made through their respective app stores. It remains to be seen how Tizen fares as a platform over the next year or two, but BlackBerry better hope that the Priv is able to bring back some of its lost customers, otherwise it might well be a one-step too far for the once-revered Canadian smartphone company.

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About the Author

Kishalaya Kundu

Senior Staff Writer
I've always been a tech buff and have been building my own PCs since as far back as I can remember. My first computer was a home-built desktop running MS-DOS on which I learnt to program in GW-BASIC and my interests apart from technology include automobiles and sports.