What do operating systems, browsers and search engines all have in common? It seems to be a ratio of 90:9:1 between the key players. One player dominates; then others get a minimal share.
Take mobile OSs: This week the Mozilla Foundation pulled the plug on Firefox OS – the mobile OS which could have replaced native apps with HTML-based apps – a final death throe in the mobile OS wars. There are now three main platforms – Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone – for which worldwide shipments are currently running in a ratio of about 85:14:1 respectively.
Now look at desktop OS sales: the ratio stands in the most recent quarter at about 91:8:1 between Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s Mac OSX, and “self-build” machines which probably get Linux.
It’s oddly reminiscent of the “1% rule” – a rule of thumb observed as far back as 2006, which states that if you have a group of 100 people interacting online, then one will generate some content, nine will provide feedback, and 90 will simply consume it. (Studies have broadly confirmed that principle.)
Mozilla has killed off its Firefox OS, leaving the mobile OS market dominated by Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Will technology always follow the same pattern?