After I hit publish on that last article a friend asked a question that I’ve been thinking about: What do you do if you don’t want to use a phone with iOS or Android?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a good option today. WebOS from the now defunct Palm and Windows Phone from Microsoft were the only two big alternatives.
WebOS had a tremendously different design from today’s iOS and Android, but it has now changed hands between Palm, then HP, and now LG.
Windows Phone… well it looked and felt like an evolution of the Zune’s operating system, but I liked some things about that style. I had hoped that Microsoft would keep at it until they hit it out of the park with a winner, but it’s been forever since there was life in that platform.
Abhishek Prakash has a list of open-source mobile operating systems, but they’re all either already failed, Samsung garbage, or still “in development.”
If there were a complete mobile operating system that could compete with Android and iOS on the user experience level, and somehow had a ton of support from app and game developers, it would also need a strong hardware partner to develop an amazing pocket computer. I don’t see that happening.
Even Amazon’s Fire Phone got cancelled, and Amazon already had a strong competitor to Google’s app store.
Microsoft might come back with a Surface Phone but even Thurott said: “But a Surface phone? That makes no sense.” That quote is from late 2016. I think Microsoft might be able to have a better shot today if they could get some kind of branding right for once, which they seem terminally incapable of doing. A few weeks later Thurott wrote that there might be some life in the idea of a Surface Phone yet, and ended with the hilarious:
…I now believe it more likely than not that the software giant will in fact someday sell a Surface phone.
God help us all.
Still, that was in 2016 and here we are, two years later, and Microsoft’s leadership must not feel like they have the right device or the right distance from Windows Phone’s failure to even tease a return.