Mobile OS competition has long been a two-horse race, with Android and iOS staying at the top, with a few bits and pieces players dotting the landscape. But the marginalization of the ‘other players’ segment now looks complete. Data from Gartner data shows that Android and iOS installed smartphones accounted for 99.6% of smartphones shipped during the fourth quarter of 2016.

Mobile OS marketshare Q4 2016

Back in 2011, things were a bit more spread out, with Nokia and Blackberry holding a decent position in the mobile OS market. But both of them lost all bearing in the uber-competitive smartphone market, and were eventually replaced by Android phones. The difference looks stark when we look at the Mobile OS marketshare in 2011.

Mobile OS marketshare 2011

Now that the rout is complete, it will be very, very difficult for any other player to make a dent in the market.

At such scale, the developer community, without which no operating system can survive, will have no incentive to work on a new platform, simply because there is no market for their apps. No users means no market for app developers, and if they sit on the sidelines, which they will, it will be a death knell for any new mobile OS.

Big tech companies know this, so why would they invest their time and energy in fighting a war they cannot win, even if they are loaded with billions?

Facebook, Samsung and Microsoft are the only three companies in the world that still have some room to make their move in this segment. But even for them, it is not an easy terrain to maneuver considering the current state of the market; and to be honest, the mobile OS games have already come to a logical conclusion: its Apple or Google, and that’s where it ends.

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Source: Gartner Q4-16, Gartner Q4-11

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