The race to be the “Third OS” behind Google and Apple is changing. The increasing interest in IoT has brought along connected devices of all sorts, and OS vendors looking to grow need to be concerned with supporting wearables, smart cars, and smart home devices. “For both new and incumbent OS vendors, capturing the next wave of users will require support of new device types, a strong focus on developing markets, and support for universal development processes,” says Eric Abbruzzese, Research Analyst, ABI Research.

As Google expands Android Wear, and Apple launches its Apple Watch, other OS vendors must capitalize on not only wearables, but all smart device categories requiring an OS. While the Apple Watch is garnering much attention, it serves as an example of the current limitations of smart watches, and how future growth is compulsory; the capabilities are limited to a few primary uses, while future devices will need to do as much as smartphones do today. Capitalizing on these new device types throughout their launch and growth will help achieve scale, especially for newer OS vendors. Along with new devices, an OS must also appeal to developing markets, which currently are the most active in mobile device usage. Southeast Asia, India, and China will prove to be crucial markets to capture, with inexpensive hardware paired with a locale-friendly OS and app store.

New entrants must aim for disruption of the market through capitalization on markets underserved by Google, while also supporting new development through universal technologies. “Capitalizing on markets outside of Google’s services footprint, whether it be through AOSP, fully forked Android, or another platform, will prove necessary. For development, creating a strong universal platform will not only help an OS attract new developers—necessary in underserved markets—but will also encourage developers to port their existing content to a new OS,” adds Abbruzzese.

Practice Director Sam Rosen adds, “OS competition is a game with reduced barriers compared to 3 years ago. While even the race for the 3rd place OS is a high stakes game requiring significant capital, we’ve seen mobile operators, large national retailers, and upstart hardware manufacturers looking to the OS space to gain a foothold and leverage their services to better compete in the market. There is no question that OS development is something that can be considered by financial service companies or consumer packaged goods companies with the right use case and business model.”

These findings are part of ABI Research’s Mobile OS, Browsers, and Applications Market Research.

ABI Research provides technology market research and technology intelligence for industry innovators. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research’s worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 70+ research and advisory services. Est. 1990.