Mobile Technologies Index - article 8

Mobile operating system: Smartphones will just get smarter

The smartphone seems to acquire more cognitive capabilities with each major product release—regardless of the OEM. PwC expects this trend to continue. The mobile operating system (OS) is not included in the Index because there is no comprehensive metric for it, but we do anticipate continuous innovation, especially in the user interface (UI) layer and the core services layer (capabilities that make life easier for application developers) of the OS, to support the new cognitive capabilities of mobile devices.

The role of the OS will only grow in importance as the orchestrator of all the components and services on the device and those that reside in the cloud. Although there is no comprehensive metric for the OS, we see incremental improvement over time similar to DRAM, storage and the other mobile building blocks.

One reasonable approach to forecasting change in the OS is to examine the history of these incremental improvements and look for patterns likely to continue. Specifically, we examined the number of material enhancements to the iOS and Android operating systems over the period covering the last four major releases from Apple and Google. This view of enhancement patterns over time suggests a forecast pattern for the two currently dominant mobile OSes, and possibly any others.

For example, don’t expect much to happen at the core OS layer, although a few fundamental developments could arise in response to the needs for greater information security, especially in the enterprise context. Likewise, we do not anticipate multiple major innovations within the media layer. The two layers likely to see the most enhancements over the next five years are the core services and UI layers.

As connectivity improves, the OS will need to be able to more thoroughly integrate and orchestrate the mobile device with the cloud, managing the balancing act of native apps on the device with apps, data and services in the cloud and the interplay amongst them; and continuous connection with other devices with which it is federated and has the ability to exchange information.

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All articles in the 'Mobile innovations forecast' series