Here’s something I wrote for a comms company called Paratus, being that it was the end of the year.
I’m about to refer to an operating system as the ‘It’ OS. Like it’s some irresistibly buckle-clad bag, or inexplicably slender young lass. Actually, if you’re a tech journalist, it’s not totally insane – Google’s Android for mobiles might have launched last year, but it’s in 2009 that it exploded in our faces and on our phone manufacturers.
HTC was the first company to ride the Android bandwagon, and it hit its stride with the Hero, roundly applauded by techies as the Android phone to beat. Of course, now Sony Ericsson, Samsung and even Acer and Dell have Android phones too.
Then there’s Motorola, who didn’t just come back, it came back twice – with the DEXT, my favourite Android phone for using Facebook; and the Milestone, which managed to sell out less than three hours after showing up on eXpansys. Nostalgia for the company that gave us the Razr, or cravings for a beefed up Android 2.0 OS, complete with camera flash?
The other comeback kid is old enough to be my dad, but I think Palm brought the goods with the Pre and webOS. There isn’t a better out of the box phone when it comes to integrating social network and email accounts – so important now that texting and tweeting beats actually calling anyone. Too bad the App Catalog is so empty it actually has cartoon moths flying around it, because really, the real ‘It’ thing this year was apps.
Sure, there was a brief distraction in the form of the escalating megapixels race. Mostly between LG and Samsung (arguably the winner with 12 megs on the Pixon12) though Nokia did shyly submit the N86 8MP for consideration. It’s since withdrawn to regroup and focus on… well, I’m not really sure, but the last two things I saw were a computer and a phone it called a ‘mini-computer’.
Mainly though, this has been the year that software ballooned in the eyes of consumers. iPhones might still sell more than Android phones, but it’s no coincidence what both systems have in common – apps, and a lot of them. (Albeit about 80,000 more for the iPhone.) Whether it was GPS-sensitive alarms, life managers or, for the addicts among us, touch-screen bubblewrap, being able to customise your phone became a uniquely big deal like never before. Even BlackBerry, once the ultimate symbol of The Suit, started its own App World – and before you assume worky type apps like contact grabber Gwabbit, a popular one is Sit or Squat. It’s pretty much what you think it is. Based on your GPS location.
Of course, don’t forget about the Microsoft camp who may finally deliver on the Windows Mobile promises that have been on repeat for the last few years. After all, the HTC HD2 wowed a lot of us with its very usable take on WinMo 6.5. And with Android, webOS and iPhone, I’m betting on enough next year to frazzle even the most confident ‘It’ OS speculator.