In my conversations with digital workplace and marketing technology leaders, they tend to laud the long decline and potential demise of BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. Not because they dislike those platforms (though many do), but because mobile leaders believe that shaping effective mobile experiences for customers and employees gets much simpler with only two big client environments -- iOS and Android -- in the picture.
To which I say, "Enjoy it while you can, my friends."
First of all, Android's incredible fragmentation has already become the bane of QA testers everywhere, so it's not really a two-horse race today. (More about that later...) And of course tablet and phone environments differ in some important ways. And we should never rule out Kindle.
Ubuntu Touch represents a particularly interesting alternative because it's based on the linux kernel, encourages native app development in addition to HTML5 mobile web experiences, and can share some drivers with Android.
To be sure, we don't know yet whether Ubuntu's sponsor Canonical has enough heft to see this through to significant marketshare. In the meantime, Ubuntu mobile may show up more readily in non-phone mobile devices, like those carried by logistics workers within the enterprise, or consumer games and toys -- an increasingly relevant environment for many B2C marketers.
The larger point here is that it's too premature to describe the mobile client environment as an oligopoly, however convenient that would be for enterprise app developers.
The need for cross-platform experience management has thus far driven strong demand for a diverse set of mobile platform technology vendors. Readers of our Enterprise Mobile Technology Report know that each vendor takes a somewhat different approach to addressing cross-platform fidelity. None of of these platforms are perfect, let alone ideal, but some might work for you. The rise of Firefox, Tizen, Ubuntu, and whatever-comes-next is going to present still more challenges for these vendors.
If you want some help navigating the mobile experience management landscape, check out an excerpt from our research, and let us know what you think.