The story of the ups and downs of mobile OSS of the last decade

2020 was the beginning of a new decade and ended the previous one. Before we look ahead to the future of technology, we would like to look back and remember how mobile operating systems evolved. In addition to the dominant Android and iOS today, there were other, alternative OSS that managed to contribute to the development of the industry. They ceased to exist, unable to withstand the competition, but they deserve to be remembered. So, the best alternatives to the Android OS of the last decade:

BlackBerry 10

The Blackberry 10 operating system (BB10) was released in 2012 as a successor to the legacy Blackberry OS (BBOS). It launched on the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 phones and supported intuitive gesture navigation, as well as a user-friendly Blackberry Hub that combined all notifications, calls, and messages in one app.

In the future, Blackberry released several more phones with the BB10 OS, but could not compete with Android and iOS, especially in markets other than the United States. The last device under this operating system was released in 2015 – it was a Blackberry Leap smartphone. In 2017, the company announced that BB10 is officially serviced until the end of 2019, and the Blackberry brand itself was transferred to TCL Communication.The Blackberry World, Blackberry Travel, and Playbook services were phased out over the next two years. The first wave of phones under the Blackberry TCL brand started with the Blackberry KEYone running Android OS. It should be noted that this is not the first Blackberry phone under Android – it was the Blackberry Priv of 2015,

< /p>Although BB10 and BBOS are no longer supported, Blackberry ideas continued to exist on the Android platform with TCL technologies and Blackberry embedded software, including the same Blackberry Hub. In the end, BB10 was a decent mobile OS that so many users liked.

Firefox OS

Firefox OS is perhaps the biggest disappointment among all the Android alternatives on our list. This operating system was launched in 2013 and has been in use for about two or three years. Developers from Mozilla first launched the Firefox OS called Boot to Gecko. Since this OS was focused on web applications, the company named it after the Firefox web engine-Gecko. Later, Mozilla renamed its brainchild to Firefox OS. The first phones under its control appeared in Brazil, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Venezuela.By 2014, Firefox OS devices had made it to the US, and by the end of this year, Mozilla reported that 14 Firefox OS smartphones were available from 14 mobile carriers in almost 30 countries. A year later, the developers announced that they would no longer develop a line of devices with the Firefox OS. A few months later, Mozilla officially announced that it was discontinuing the project altogether to focus on the IoT.Initially, Mozilla did not have any ideas about running its OS on high-end devices. There was a need for competitive budget phones, and Mozilla representatives decided that Firefox OS would be perfect for them. Similar to Google Chrome OS, Firefox OS is focused on web applications. This meant that it was easier for developers to create apps using JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS.

Unfortunately, the Firefox operating system was unstable, and the phones created for it were too weak. And because Mozilla has targeted emerging markets, it has failed to generate the desired revenue. Overall, Mozilla did its best to promote Firefox OS – as much as a company that had no experience developing mobile operating systems could.

At least the situation with Firefox OS has its continuation: since it was developed as an open source project, later it was based on it that KaiOS was created – a very successful OS for the so-called feature phones, simplified phone models.


The Linux Foundation created Tizen in 2011 as a successor to the MeeGo OS, a joint project of Intel and Nokia. The initial development of Tizen was handled by Samsung and Intel. Their idea was to focus not only on smartphones, but also on other platforms - netbooks, tablets, smart TVs.After two years of development, in 2013, Samsung announced the release of several phones under the Tizen OS with the Bada OS built into it, previously developed by the company. Since then, Samsung has been using Tizen in its smart watches, and in addition, this OS has hit several smartphones and IoT devices.

Despite the fact that Samsung has achieved success with Tizen in its smart watches and TVs, it has not managed to gain a foothold on smartphones. Although, unlike any other mobile operating system on our list, Tizen is still in development, including for smartphones – so the end has not yet been put on it.

Samsung's latest Tizen - based phone, the Samsung Z4, was released in mid - 2017, but it is likely that the company will continue to develop this OS. If Samsung ever finds itself in the same position as Huawei right now, it will have a backup plan.


Palm's mobile development began back in 2007 with the introduction of Palm OS. Two years later, Palm announced the release of webOS, the company's new mobile operating system. It first appeared on Palm Pre.

Palm managed to release several more phones before it was acquired by HP in 2010. Unfortunately, after the merger of the companies, there was no special development of Palm's ideas. HP planned to implement webOS not only in mobile devices and tablets, but also in other IoT gadgets as a worthy alternative to Android, but the company has not made any progress in this direction.

With webOS on board, HP released the HP Veer and HP Pre 3 phones, as well as the HP TouchPad tablet. This happened back in 2011, and the last update for these devices was released in January 2012.

Before the release of this update, HP posted the webOS open source code online so that the community could develop it further. In 2013, LG bought webOS from HP for use in its smart TVs. Since then, webOS has managed to get to other IoT devices.

Experimenters who want to get familiar with webOS can try it out in the form of LuneOS, an updated version available for some phones.

Windows 10 Mobile

The list of alternatives to iOS and Android could not fail to include the Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile operating systems. Their history began in 2010 with the first release of the phone for Windows Phone. Then, in the middle of the decade, the legacy OS was replaced by Windows 10 Mobile.

Windows 10 Mobile looked and functioned very much like its predecessor, but it was better polished and offered a deeper integration of the main screen of the phone with the similarity of the desktop PC. The main advantage of Microsoft was the idea that the smartphone could turn into a smaller version of the computer. As a result, Microsoft's mobile OS was perhaps the closest thing to breaking the lead of Google and Apple.Unfortunately, both Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile have not reached the heights. Two years later, Microsoft stopped developing Windows 10 Mobile, and the platform effectively died.

However, Microsoft is not completely out of the game in the mobile market. The company recently announced the Surface Duo, an Android-based folding smartphone that may usher in a new era of Microsoft's mobile ideas.