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Freddy Wong

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Android phones and Apple’s iPhone dominate the smartphone market, with 41 percent and 27 percent market share respectively. Both continue to make gains against the waning BlackBerry and Symbian platforms … as well as Windows Phone 7, which struggles to get a foothold. Three new challengers for the mobile OS crown are approaching, though. Four, in fact, depending on how you count. Windows So far, people have rejected Windows Phone 7 in favor of iPhones and Android smartphones. But with the recent unveiling of Nokia’s latest Windows phones, made in partnership with Microsoft and sporting some striking new looks, it’s becoming clear that Windows shouldn’t be ruled out yet. Here’s where it depends on how you count: Microsoft’s separate, upcoming Windows 8 OS is being designed around the same “Metro” interface as Windows Phone 7, with large, touch-friendly panels. It’s apparently going to have a way to get to the normal Windows desktop, but on some Windows 8 tablets you won’t be able to run legacy Windows apps; they’ll use battery-saving ARM processors instead of Intel’s, and will only be able to use the new Metro apps. Why shouldn’t you count Windows out yet? Because Microsoft’s got money to burn (including the money it’s leeching from Android), and because it’s also got genuinely good ideas for the new Windows. WebOS That’s the operating system developed by Palm. And so far, it’s been a failure. WebOS phones like the Palm Pre completely failed to gain market share, sinking Palm’s stock price like a rock (or “river stone”). That allowed HP to snap up the company and crash and burn spectacularly, dropping its remaining stock of WebOS TouchPad tablets in a $99 fire sale and ceasing its work on WebOS gadgets. So why shouldn’t you count WebOS out? Because it’s shiny, polished and promising, with very strong developer tools. And with Apple and Microsoft laying siege to Android, plus Google playing favorites with manufacturers, buying up WebOS might be a path to independence for a smartphone or tablet company … just ask HTC. Ubuntu Ubun-who? Ubuntu, the “third most popular desktop operating system in the world.” It pairs Mac OS X’s style with the open-source ethos of Chrome or Firefox, and is free to download and use. Hobbyists love it, and manufacturers like Dell are already making PCs and gadgets that run it. Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth recently announced a roadmap for Ubuntu, that includes full tablet and smartphone support by 2014. That may seem a long way off, but it’s not like Ubuntu will be doing nothing in the meantime. It’s already popular with both users and developers, and it has nowhere to go but up.


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