June 02, 2011, 10:23 AM — Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing the most anticipated match in the history of smartphones for the heavyweight championship of the world. Are you ready? For those watching around the world, let's get ready to rumble!
For this battle, we're comparing the four heavyweights: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone 7. Symbian is on the fast track to extinction, and WebOS (found on Palm and some HP devices) is a minor player.
Gladiators, Step Forth
Android: They say it takes a village to raise a child, and Android is a great example. It's parented not only by Google but also by the members of the Open Handset Alliance, many of whom are among the biggest, baddest companies in the world. It's no wonder that this puppy is tearing through everyone else's market share. Android first appeared on a phone in October 2008.
BlackBerry: The veteran of the four, the BlackBerry OS hails from Research in Motion. When they debuted in 1999, BlackBerry devices were little e-mail machines, and that was pretty much it. Now running on OS version 6, with 7 on the horizon, they can do a lot more.
iOS: The first iPhone was born in June 2007 to Apple. What was then known as "iPhone OS" in 2010 changed its name to iOS to incorporate the iPad, iPod Touch, and Apple TV. Coveted by yuppies, hipsters, and pretty much everyone else, iOS looks tough to beat.
Windows Phone 7 (WP7): The rookie. The successor to Windows Mobile OS (and Symbian's usurper), Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft's newborn, first appearing in November 2010. Windows Phone 7 was a major shift in focus from the business world to the consumer world, and Microsoft temporarily dropped support for many business features to get this first iteration out. Adoption has been slow, but now that Microsoft has partnered with Nokia, some analysts are predicting a growth spurt. As one might expect from the youngest OS, many features are still missing, but a number of those omissions should be addressed in this fall's "Mango" update.
Now, contenders, return to your corners and come out swinging!
Apple's App Store has the most apps available for a phone (nearly 380,000), but soon it will be overtaken by the Android Market (about 300,000), perhaps this summer. Android has already overtaken iOS in the number of free apps. BlackBerry App World hovers somewhere around 30,000 apps, but it is expected that before turning a year old, the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace (currently about 18,000 apps) will surpass it later this year.