Good news for Japan but bad news for LiMo? Japanese phone makers to develop new operating system AND open it to the world

musical chairs for mobile platforms.jpg

I have long been very pessimistic of Japanese mobile strategy since I did not see how it could translate outside of Japan.

However, this is great news for Japan, the industry and the ecosystem

Japan’s four leading mobile phone makers are teaming up with NTT DoCoMo Inc. to develop the operating system for DoCoMo’s next-generation mobile phones, due to be released next year, the Nikkei reported Sunday. The new operating system will, in principle, be used in all of DoCoMo’s next-generation handsets. It will be optimized for video and music use. The six partners will also market the software overseas, hoping to take away market share from Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

The ‘market the software overseas’ bit could be very interesting indeed ..

Let’s see what that could mean

Software platforms are open sourced in most cases. Where they were not( ex – windows mobile), the strategy seems to be now leaning to launch a device + platform as in case of windows. So, it is an acknowledgement that value has shifted away from the platform.

Like the game of musical chairs, the players are aligning themselves very clearly with some unique advantages. The last one standing may be at risk!

a) Symbian has Nokia and Ovi. That’s always its strength

b) Android has Google who continues to invest and contribute. It also has a great developer ecosystem which will be an asset to any Operator

c) BONDI has tied up with WAC

d) MSFT has launched devices

That leaves LiMo in the game of musical chairs.

Why is LiMo vulnerable?

No clear developer program to date, Not clear about APIs still(how they can be accessed), Not clear who will contribute(Samsung etc have launched BADA) are three reasons

I like the Japanese announcement for a number of reasons – ex if the Japanese experience in content, codecs, LTE etc can be encapsulated in the form of a great platform, that’s VERY good for the industry. Japan also has a history of building an ecosystem(with DoCoMo).

This platform could thus challenge even Android(in due course as devices are deployed) but in the immediate term could directly impact LiMo

The debacle of Palm teaches us that the rate of change has increased dramatically and as we see today, once again the game of musical chairs shifts again