Are mobiles what PCs would be without Windows?

I was following another professional discussion shitstorm on topic of mobile phone reviews and it hit me that I often enjoy info and talks about mobile phones more. Even if I am interested in them much less than computers.

Mobile phone market seems more dynamic, colorful and less settled. Is this something PC market simply failed to become? Or is it other way around?


It is rough comparison but both computer and mobile phone have:

  • set of computing electronics;
  • video and audio output;
  • primarily keyboard input (for touch screen phones it is still virtual keyboard).

And both are highly (billions of units) mainstream devices with worldwide markets.

It would not be strange to expect similar patterns and same large corporations behind both. Yet these to devices seems to had taken some very different turns in the past and came to different places.


Computers grew to be sets of interchangeable from-the-shelf components. We take that as a given, but if not for some business decisions and cases of major reverse engineering in early years – it could turn out very different.

Mobile phones are nothing alike. They do have some of the same components inside, but every single model is individual device, separately developed and certified. Too small for generic components, too complex for much of engineering freedom.


Hardware is cute but really it is software that makes most of experience.

Computers slipped into several iterations of Microsoft software and ended up dominated by Windows. It is common, it is known, it is highly supported platform (just how many software titles are there?). Alternatives were forced into niches from where they now cry how better they are because they are nothing like (or exactly same) as Windows.

For mobile phones it got much more interesting. There are multiply operating systems, many of which are proprietary and not even disclosed to end user (non-smartphones). Not only some of OS are used by different manufacturers, but just as well all each manufacturer tinkers with several operating systems.


Do you think it was inevitable for these to be different?

Could PC market become fractured landscape of distinct and locked down lineups? Or maybe it is mobile phones that should have come to be generic and calm market with single major OS and only differences of marketing approach?

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