The only other mobile OSes that might appeal to the nonaligned crowd are Nokia's Series 40 OS-based Asha line, which is sold in developing markets (aka the Third World) as a stepping-stone product, and Samsung's Bada OS, which has a similar target market. Nokia doesn't sell Asha devices in North America, Europe, or the richer Asian countries, and Samsung last January decided to merge Bada (sold in parts of Europe as a low-cost device, as well as in developing countries) with the open source Tizen, one of a never-ending parade of open source mobile platforms that goes nowhere. Neither is really a factor.
Ironically, Windows Phone 8's strengths seem to fit the same not-quite-a-smartphone market as Bada and Asha, so perhaps Microsoft should rethink Windows Phone 8 along those lines, working with Nokia, HTC, and others to develop low-cost smartphones running Windows Phone. More irony: RIM tried the same strategy with BlackBerry OS 7, but it didn't work. BlackBerry isn't good at much beyond just messaging, and even users in developing countries want some Web, media, and app capabilities -- they may be poor, but they aspire to more. That may explain why even in developing countries, the momentum is swinging very strongly toward Android adoption, with the iPhone appealing to the richer segments in those countries.
Even if Windows Phone 8 has given BlackBerry an opening to reclaim some of the smartphone market, there's no guarantee that the BlackBerry will do better than Windows Phone. It may end up a two-platform world -- Android and iOS -- when all is said and done. Certainly, it's hard to believe that Windows Phone 8 has much of a chance, especially given how unpopular Windows 8 and Windows RT are. If there is to be a third major player, at this point, BlackBerry is the only candidate on deck.
This article, "Microsoft's missteps give BlackBerry a new shot at life," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.