Mobile Operating Systems in 2012


Simply said, 2012 was the year of the Androids. It didn’t only win new acquisitions in Smartphone market but also snatched market-share of other operating systems (See table below). Clearly it continued to increase its share in the market.

Other Mobile Operating Systems in the market continued to get customers as well and some of them didn’t only survive but thrived. We are here to discuss their (and Android’s) growth and improvements they had in 2012 and also what to expect from them in the future. But first, let’s start with the market-share table of Mobile OSes:

Top Six Smartphone Mobile Operating Systems, Shipments, and Market Share, Q3 2012

(Units in Millions)

Operating System







136.0 75.0% 71.0 57.5% 91.5%


26.9 14.9% 17.1 13.8% 57.3%


7.7 4.3% 11.8 9.5% -34.7%


4.1 2.3% 18.1 14.6% -77.3%

Windows Phone 7/
Windows Mobile

3.6 2.0% 1.5 1.2% 140.0%


2.8 1.5% 4.1 3.3% -31.7%


0.0 0.0% 0.1 0.1% -100.0%


181.1 100.0% 123.7 100.0% 46.4%



Android is easily the most popular OS of this time and apparently it will only increase its lead over the time in the future. After losing its race with iOS, Symbian and even to Windows Mobile in the first few years, the Android made a great re-entry in HTC’s Nexus One and it never looked back from that point onwards. It currently holds 75% of the smartphone market (worldwide) and is raising this figure swiftly.

Android saw the release of a major update in 2012 in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean which was showcased in the first ever Nexus tablet, the Nexus 7 in June this year. The most important thing it brought was the Project Butter which makes the Vsync of the screen work at 60 fps and also makes the CPU, GPU and display co-ordinate well.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean came with updated camera app, made notification system even more functional and also brought smart app updates plus Google Now.

Google also rolled out the Android 4.2 update later which brought features like better lock-screen, better keyboard, multiple user support and even better controls. We are now looking forward to the “Key Pie Lime” update which is due sometime next year.


Apple’s products have always been among the most refined in their class and iOS is no exception. First announced in 2007, iOS has become only better despite the restrictions enforced by Apple to provide a better ecosystem and keep glitches away.

2012 saw another yearly iOS version release in form of iOS 6 which brought several cool and important features. These included more functional Siri, heavy Facebook integration, Facetime calls over cellular networks and ‘iCloud Tabs’ in Safari.

iOS 6 also brought the Maps application which was declared by CNN as among the top 10 fails of the year and is madly inaccurate. If we put aside the Maps app though, iOS 6 was actually quite an update.


RIM is strongly betting on its upcoming BlackBerry 10 OS, which will be released early in 2013. And hence, all their current product developments are seemingly kept on hold.

BlackBerry 10 will be their reply to the iPhone and Android and it looks quite promising already but you shouldn’t be buying a RIM product until then.

2012 saw the release of only a handful of BlackBerry products (less than 10 to be exact) and so as a result, their market share plunged to just 4.3%. This will most probably change next year as just like Nokia, RIM has its own share of faithful customers. 2012 didn’t saw any major developments for this OS.


No doubt, the end of Symbian is near. Its market-share continued to fall after the advent of iPhone, which further fell several folds after Android arrived into the picture. With a worldwide marketshare of just 2.3%, this OS will most probably end in the near future – some say around 2014.

Some companies are still using this OS on their phones, most notably the Nokia that uses Symbian as a secondary OS on its Asha series of affordable phones, mainly because Symbian doesn’t require much GPU and runs well on less capable hardware. Symbian, like BlackBerry, remained a neglected OS this year.

Windows Phone

Microsoft’s Windows Phone debuted just couple of year ago in 2010 and hasn’t been particularly successful so far. Their market-share of about 2% is nowhere near the 75% that Android holds but most of this share has been captured in the last year especially after their partnership with Nokia.

Windows Phone saw a major update this year with Windows Phone 8 which had features that the original Windows Phone 7 version should’ve got but still gave it an upper hand in terms of openness from iOS.

The update brought support for higher res. Displays, multiple-core processors, IE10,microSD card plus a complete change in core architecture making porting apps from Windows 8 to WP8 easier.

Unfortunately though, things aren’t going well for them. Their market-share has actually dropped from earlier quarters of this year. They did take a different approach earlier than Android and iOS by introducing live tiles rather than icons & grids but design isn’t everything.

Microsoft also angered old, faithful customers by declaring that old Windows Phones would be non-upgradeable to WP8 and instead presented them with a Windows Phone 7.8 update. Also the lack of a notification centre and quality apps have left customers unconvinced so we’ll have to see how it plays out for Windows Phone in the future.

What about 2013

2013 will be an interesting year to look out for. Because of the intense competition, the companies will be churning out some great software so it’ll be interesting to see what they’ll do to stay out of each other. We obviously will be there to cover the race from start to finish.

      • I think Nokia is responsible for Symbian downfall.

        They were manufacturing low quality and high priced Symbian phones.

        But people were using and loving there phones. And suddenly Nokia announce to kill Symbian OS.

        After that Nokia is Still struggling in smartphone market.
        Let’s see how the things will work in future .

        • yup …. Symbian is good… i am using Nokia
          E5 … its still best phone with latest feature then BB.

          there was a time u can get a good phone under 10k range but now only ASHA crap is there in the market.

          Nokia act like a lazy big….. no new Symbian set , offering windows …. i can say not only Symbian but Nokia its will go down.
          Android is hot now best reason is globally app acceptability.

  • very informative article.

    But i think Nokia Asha series is not using Symbian os, they are using S40.

    Secondly you should tell us something about FireFox OS & Tizen OS, I hope they can fight with android.

    But let’s see what will happen in 2013.

        • Oh great u r so genius…then S30, S40 and S60 are C++ … right? Bhai Symbian ki development 1980s mein start hui thi S30 start mein aaya tha jo aap ne Nokia 8xxx series mein first time dekha tha…S60 smartphone OS hai, Series 3, 4, 5 recent one hain. Aur yeh sab C++ mein develop hotay hain, Java etc mein bhi kuch modules develop huay hain. Nokia also used BADA OS in some of his smartphones but returned back to Symbian OS.

          • lol just try to install .sis file in s40. i just kept laughing at ur comment. s40 support only .jar and .jad files while s60 support .sis or .sisx

            • and plz dont reply cuz i believe silence is the best policy for ignorants like. before argueing with me try to update ur knowledge first

              • yeah I’ve updated myself till 1985 :D aur kuch? aap k khayal mein jis mobile mein Snake wali game nahi hoti woh mobile hee nahi hota hoga…right? :P

                • Series 40 is an embedded software platform that is open for software development via standard or de facto content and application development technologies. It supports Java MIDlets, i.e. Java MIDP and CLDC technology, which provide location, communication, messaging, media, and graphics capabilities.[7] S40 also supports Flash Lite applications.

            • LOL :D in this case plz try to install java file on S60, and u will say k its not Symbian TOO and its Java based :D
              O bhai architecture ka difference hai…khair aap ko nahi samajh aye gi, yeh perhe likhon ki baatein hain…enjoy karo aur rola daaltay raho :)

              • Saif bhai Fakhre Alam is right…
                Nokia S40 is Java Midlet-based OS and S60 is Symbion OS
                For reference you may check Wikipedia and phr apki tasalli hojy g…

                • Awais bhai, Symbain is all developed in C++ modded language, S30 and S40 are very basic and earlier OS with very limited features. Then ACCENTURE came up with an idea of Symbian S60 which was designed for smartphones adding many features to S40 like multitasking etc. But the point is k yeh sab C++ mein develop hota hai aur .jar easily run kar sakta hai…S60 has an advantage of advanced apps with .sis / .sisx installation files.

                  They are continuously upgrading these OS, both S40 and S60. S40 bohat low profile hardware pe bhi smoothly chal jata hai is liye abhi tak is ki jan nahi chori Nokia ne. Dono OS mein java midlets run ho jatay hain, and S60 is for smartphones so it can perform extra functions which comes bundled in .sisx installation files.

                  So bottom line is k sirf setup files ko dekh k hum OS ka idea nahi laga saktay :) cuz Java midlets almost har mobile mein run ho jati hai…from Samsung to NokEa (chinese version). App Windows mein .sisx file ko run kar saktay hain, is ka matlub yeh nahi hai k Windows bhi Symbian hai :) I hope u got my point, Peace and Out.

  • Firefox OS coming in 2013 :)

    Facebook may also release a phone based on Firefox OS

    First Firefox OS based phones will come from Alcatel and ZTE and will launch in Brazil may be this (Jan, 2013) month.

    For technical perspective, why this OS maybe a hit, check this link:

  • quality speaks itself and android has proved this …i dont think so any other OS can give a hard time to android in future…
    as i always say nokia still have a chance to survive in market if nokia introduces something more unique and better OS , symbian ,s40, s60 etc all went flop so nokia its now do or die situation… best of luck

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