Every mobile phone operating system is a proprietary phone system in one way or another. Even though the Android source code is open-source and developed by a consortium of developers, it still contains proprietary software when sold in Android phone packages. Not all proprietary operating systems have stood the test of time.

Windows Phone OS

Microsoft’s partnership with Nokia might be the one that most springs to mind when you think of the Windows Phone, but in actual fact Microsoft partnered with other manufacturers when it first launched. The first Windows Phones were Windows Phone 7, and launched in October 2010. Customers had the option to choose from HTC phone deals, LG contracts or Samsung packages on Windows Phone OS. It wasn’t until a year later that the Nokia Lumia - perhaps the most famous phone associated with Windows OS - became available on the platform. These Nokia deals used Windows 7.5, and there was only to be one more incarnation of the Windows OS when Windows 7.8 launched in 2012. By this time, the Nokia Lumia was the only handset that was available with Windows OS.

BlackBerry OS

Canadian manufacturer BlackBerry released the first BlackBerry branded handset way back in 1999, and was hugely popular among business users because of its focus on email. Business users took out BlackBerry contracts not least because the handsets were designed to be used in landscape rather than portrait mode, and coined the term “thumbing”, using both thumbs to type on a mini keyboard. From 2016 BlackBerry ceased manufacture of its own phones and operating systems and instead licensed the BlackBerry brand to third parties, most notably TCL. That relationship fell apart in 2020, leaving BlackBerry swallowed whole by a sea of Android devices.

Palm OS

Palm, Inc. was an American company that specialised in the manufacture of PDAs. The Treo 600 was one of the first smartphones ever, released way before iPhone packages became the most sought after plans in the world in 2007, and used Palm OS. HP bought Palm, Inc. in 2010, and promptly sold the Palm OS trademark to TCL in 2014 after poor sales. Originally, Palm OS was available on numerous devices, including the Samsung SPH-i500 smartphone. However, Palm OS was ultimately doomed when Google formed the Open Handset Alliance in 2007, paving the way for Android to become the standard OS for non-iPhone smartphone manufacturers. 


KaiOS is a Linux-based operating system for keypad feature phones, which are still popular among some phone users. Chinese tech giant TCL is the largest shareholder in KaiOS Technologies, which is based in Hong Kong. KaiOS is used in smartphone manufacturers including Doro, Alcatel and Jio. In March 2020 KaiOS and Mozilla announced a partnership to update KaiOS with a modern version of the Gecko browser engine, a clear indication that KaiOS has no intention of going anywhere. 

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