It's not just Android and iOS devices that are likely to be making their way into Australian workplaces, with alternative mobile operating systems projected to gain marketshare over the next four years.
In its latest Australian Smartphone Market Study, analyst firm Telsyte has predicted that Windows, Firefox and other challenger platforms will make their presence felt.
In 2013, Android represented more than 50 per cent of the Australian smartphone market, followed by Apple at 42 per cent. Microsoft, BlackBerry, Symbian and other challengers represented the remaining 8 per cent.
Telsyte predicted that by 2018, the challengers to Android and iOS will double their market share to 16 per per cent. Android will likely continue to hold at least half the market and Apple will maintain the number-two position, the analyst firm said.
“Microsoft is expected to be the biggest challenger, but a range of others including Tizen, Sailfish and Firefox are expected to battle it out for third spot,” Telsyte said.
However, Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda told Techworld Austalia that the influx of challengers may not change the contours of the 'bring-your-own device' (BYOD) battle for IT managers.
“The main challenges of BYOD will remain as the other operating systems will only make up a small part of the market, with Windows Phone being the biggest of those,” said Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda.
“So with iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry all supporting tools to help manage BYOD the ‘other OS’ problem should be a minor one.”
He added that the new operating systems tend to support HTML5, “which, in theory, can make app management easier by limiting the dependence on the device.”
Telsyte analyst Alvin Lee said the increasing market share OS challengers will be driven in part by vendors looking to differentiate from Android.
“Vendors are seeking differentiation in the market and at the same time want more control over the platforms,” he told Techworld Australia.
Lee acknowledged that challenger operating systems will have to overcome the extensive apps stores of Apple and Android to be successful.
“Availability of apps is one of the hurdles for early adoption and is recognised by the emerging platforms and will require a number of years to overcome,” he said.
“Platforms are competing by creating a more developer-friendly environment and are getting support from major vendors such as Samsung and Intel for Tizen and Sony for Firefox. However, not all platforms will succeed as the competition plays out.”
Windows Phone will benefit from desktop PCs and tablets running Windows, Lee said. The analyst expects BlackBerry will focus primarily on software and services, where its main target audience will be the business market, he said.
Also in the report, Telsyte found that less than half of all smartphones in Australia came with a contract in 2013, with more consumers opting to buy their mobiles outright.
Telsyte found that only 43 per cent of Australian aged 16 or older had acquired their smartphone through a mobile service contract in 2013, down from 57 per cent the previous year. About 30 per cent bought their phone outright in 2013, with the rest receiving their phone as a gift, company phone or hand me down, the analyst firm said.
“The unbundling of handset and mobile service contracts has been growing in popularity as consumers seek new handsets more frequently than the typical 24 month contract,” said Telsyte managing director, Foad Fadaghi.
Telsyte estimated there were 15 million Australian smartphone users at the end of last year, an increase of 2.6 million from 2012. The result supports a recent OECD report showing that Australia leads the world in wireless broadband subscriptions.
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