Why are mobile phones limited to one operating system?

By on February 20, 2011
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Less is not more.


Imagine if you bought a PC and could only use Windows XP on it. You couldn’t change the operating system without voiding the warranty on your PC. You couldn’t simply upgrade to Windows 7 or even Linux. For that, you would have to buy a whole new PC and throw away the old one that you paid thousands of Dirhams for. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? So, why do mobile phone manufacturers get away with it?

Considering phones these days are as powerful as PCs were a few years ago, would it not make sense for manufacturers to go the DIY way simply selling hardware and allowing users to pick their choice of operating systems? Imagine a world where phones are no longer restricted by operating systems – you could pick whichever one you like and if you picked one that you didn’t like, you could simply switch to another.

A few weeks ago my colleague Abbas posted a blog piece about the HTC HD2 (Leo) and the fact that you could easily hack it to run any operating system including Windows Mobile Phone, Android, Meego and even Linux. This led me to get a hold of another HD2 and the experience has been quite liberating.

I used the dual boot to switch between operating systems when I liked to and had access to all the facilities the different operating systems could afford. It was mobile nirvana.

I’ll concede that I have no hopes of ever running Blackberry’s OS or the iOS on the phone but it was certainly refreshing to have a choice.

Hopefully, with mobile phones going the way of the PC, one day we will all get access to a choice of operating systems and not be limited to just one per phone.


Hitesh is a tech/games journalist and Business Development Manager for the Tbreak Network.

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