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There’s also application market share. Windows was unassailable until the web and mobile made the desktop irrelevant.
To me it’s not the fight for a third-best smartphone OS that has been lost, but the fight for a third-best smartphone app store.
Eg. Sailfish OS runs Android-apps and many other Android-compatible OS:es could rise, but none of them will be allowed to use Google’s App Store or any of Google’s own apps and thus they won’t be able to compete. Not because they can’t run the apps, but because they’re not allowed to download the apps.
That was what intrigued me mainly about Firefox OS, that at least many of the simple apps could be made as platform independent open apps instead and thus be more easily be provided on new platforms and thus enable more innovation on the OS level rather than have that be limited by business decisions on who can use what app store.
That vision might still be alive though even though Firefox OS isn’t very alive anymore. Google is still pushing web apps within Chrome and Chrome OS and with the arrival of Service Workers there’s a much more promising base now than there were with the old HTML5 Application cache that eg. iOS 1 relied on for its offline apps.
There’s also a vendor independent manifest in the works for the definition of such web apps , http://w3c.github.io/manifest/, but now probably pushed more by the Google Chrome team than the Firefox OS team. So maybe maybe it can be Google’s own Chrome team that eventually breaks Google’s own Android duopoly with iOS.
I think there is a gap in the market for a security consious phone. Something like the black phone but actually secure, not just “slightly more secure than Android”. It could still be based on Android perhaps, but would need all the Google leaks plugged.
I think after BlackBerry fizzled, Apple is trying to capture the security and privacy conscious market, with Samsung trying (in the more traditional BB market though) as well.