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Windows Phone 7
The problem with Windows Phone 7 is that, as yet it doesn't exist. This is Microsoft's attempt to catch up with OSi and Android. It is the latest version of the Windows mobile operating system but it is so radically different that it is better treated as something new. It also runs on a new range of hardware and isn't backward compatible with existing Windows based mobile phones - it really does represent a new start and as such it is next to impossible to gauge the size of the market.
The basic spec for a Windows Phone 7 device includes a 4 point touch screen, DirectX 9 compatible GPU, accelerometer with compass, proximity sensor, assisted GPS, 5-megapixel or better camera, FM radio and 5 hardware buttons. No Windows Mobile 6 phone meets this level of specification and so upgrading to Phone 7 isn't going to be possible. From a developer's point of view the basic platform looks very capable.
The SDK can be downloaded for free from Microsoft but at the time of writing it is still in beta. Applications can only be developed using C# but there is no reason why other .NET languages shouldn't be used in the future. The biggest problem for the developer is that there are two types of native applications supported - Silverlight and XNA. The reason for this split is that the phone's graphics are based on DirectX but Silverlight can't access DirectX hence the need for XNA which can. As a result most applications will need to use Silverlight with its well developed UI and games will tend to use XNA with it good 2D and 3D graphics.
Microsoft, learning from both Apple and Google, plans to host an application market and provide in-app advertising but at the time of writing details, let alone the web sites, are not finalised.It also isn't clear if the Microsoft store will control applications as tighly as Apple or as openly as Google - at the moment it looks as if the control will be light.
The original Windows Mobile had a reasonably healthy 11% of the US market. It also has a market place with around 1000 apps. It offers a royalty of 70%, one of billiing no subscriptions, no in app advertsing and a submission charge of $99. But despite Microsoft promising to keep Windows Mobile going as a sort of Windows Phone Classic, developing for this non-compatible system would be a good bet.
Microsoft is also working hard at getting developers to write for the new system - providing tutorials and lending development phones and paying for apps from programmers who have a track record in creating apps. So far there is no Phone 7 app competition or prize give away - but watch this space.
The biggest problem with developing for Windows Phone 7 is simply the lack of devices to test your work on. The emulator is reasonable but it lacks support for many of the hardware features that makes the Phone special. This is also the case with iPhone and Android emulators, but in this case you can actually try the application out on a real device.There is also the risk that Windows Phone 7 will be a market failure and your app will simply not have a user base to exploit.
MeeGo is yet to be released so it is difficult to judge its market impact . It is being created by an alliance of Nokia and Intel with Intel planning to use it on netbooks and tablets and Nokia targeting its next generation N series. MeeGo is a fusion of the Intel Moblin OS and the Nokia Maemo OS. It supports a range of architectures including ARM, and Intel processors.
At the moment the development environment is slightly underdeveloped. The SDK includes Qt and the Touch Framework and runs on a Linux workstation. Applications are written in C/C++. You can use both Clutter and GTK+ to create user interfaces. The emulator is very general and not targeted at any particular device.
MeeGo is an open source project and basically is just a Linux distribution. As such you can download the source code and modify it. In practice MeeGo will be highly customised when running on a particular device and this is unlikely to be available in source code.
Currently Nokia is suggesting that the Ovi Store is where MeeGo apps will be sold and Intel is offering its AppUp facility for its MeeGo devices.
MeeGo is still at too early a stage in its development to make hard and fast pronouncements about what it is worth. It clearly has the potential to become an operating system on a range of devices. If Nokia does use it in a successful next generation N series phone then its potential market could be very big indeed. At the moment, however, none of the partners in the MeeGo project are offering much in the way of incentives for developers to consider the platform.
bada is an OS created by Samsung and available on the Wave S8500 - a touch screen phone.
The bada OS uses a C++ based API and the SDK which includes an emulator can be downloaded for free - it only runs under Windows XP or later. A UI builder is used to create the UI. There are lots of tutorials and even a free book at the Samsung website.
Samsung are also offering a lot of prizes in a competition to build the best apps in various categories. The company has sold a miillion bada phones by July of this year (2010) and hopes to have 7000 apps availalbe in its app store by the end of the year.
The bada Seller Office is the only source of applications for bada devices. You have to submit your application for approval and the whole process is much like the Apple App Store.
There are criticisms of bada - it is sensor API is closed, apps can't access SMS and so on. The key factor in deciding to develop for bada is however "do you think Samsung can make a bada into a world wide mobile phone platform?". At the moment it is just too early to say but the signs are good.