“Why a European mobile operating system can’t challenge Android and iOS”

3 min readMar 27, 2023

In a pretty long article published on March 24th at “TheNextWeb”, /e/OS was lucky enough to be highlighted as a proof of “why a a European mobile operating system can’t challenge Android and iOS”.

The full article is mostly FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) and I like it because when you reach that level of argumentation, it means that some people are concerned.

Let’s have a look more specifically at some comments from this industry analyst Jan Stryjak…

  • “Two is enough,” he says, referring to iOS and Android.
  • “the really niche tech population who care about privacy.”
  • “What we’ve found, then, is a pretty hard ceiling for a privacy-focused mobile OS. Currently, this is a niche option for niche devices. Yes, it could potentially grow and attract a healthy number of users, but this approach is unlikely to challenge the dominance of Android and iOS.
  • “at best, a new OS on mobile devices will likely be similar to Linux on desktop computers: something that attracts a devoted fanbase, but fails to make it into the mainstream.”
  • “Let’s think of it this way: would you switch to a phone that didn’t have a native Gmail app? Or Twitter? TikTok? Instagram? It would take an inordinate amount of time just for those companies to port over their software — and they’re some of the best-resourced organisations in the world. “

Interestingly, Stryjak’s comments here are beyond FUD. He’s reaching the traditional state of allegiance to the prevailing power (and I encourage him to read about the speech on voluntary servitude), mixed with some condescension and disdain.

So “two OS is enough”. But why not “one OS is enough” in that case?

For apps developers, having to deal with both iOS+Android is real pain. They would really prefer one OS.

But there is a solution for this: use the technologies of the web to build mobile apps. That’s called “PWA”, “miniApps”… Standard technologies, not owned by X or Y. When you reach that point, then you can have 1,2,3… 5, 100 different OS. You don’t care: all apps will work. That would be possible, and we think it’s what’s going to happen.

But to make things clear what we’ve got here is a duopolist system with Apple and Google, that is abusing the market with unfair practises at all stages, leaving few or no option to any significant competitor.

And that’s where regulation is needed and why the EU DMA is going to disrupt the monopoly.

But the sadest aspect of this article in my opinion, and especially for an industry analyst (we’re not on Facebook groups, right?), is to claim things without doing homework first.

First of all, Stryjak should have been aware that /e/OS is compatible with any mobile application from the Android world. I’m coming from the Linux world, I am the creator of Mandrake Linux, and I’ve learned from the past: people first use apps, not an OS.

When a customer of a Murena phone with /e/OS powers his handset on, he will be able to instantly reach the whole catalog of apps from the Android world, in addition to a large catalog of open source and some progressive web apps.

/e/OS’ app store: “App Lounge”

And better: /e/OS features a privacy score for each application and offers Advanced Privacy, to put the power back into the end user’s hands: he will know about any tracker used and can cut all of them in one touch. No trackers, no ads… peace of mind.

Finally, using the “the really niche tech population who care about privacy” argument is intriguing since privacy protection is a growing concern, that has been adressed strongly by the EU over the past years, and that seems to be triggering a new market trend.

Last but not the least: Murena-/e/OS customers are not only privacy activists. They are people concerned by the permanent and industrial personal data collection from the US big techs. They are people who support an OS that offers more sustainability for their devices (we are still offering OS updates for the Fairphone 2!). They are people who are looking for more ethical and fair IT products.

This market is a niche, that’s true: a €80Bn global niche.

— Gaël Duval — December 1st 2022

Follow me: @gael@mastodon.social on Mastodon — @gael_duval on Twitter




Software engineer, Entrepreneur: Mandrake-Linux 1998, Ulteo 2006, /e/OS & Murena 2017, Open Source advocate. https://gaelduval.com/about-gael-duval/