January 3, 2012 | by Charles West
Just when you thought dumbphones were on a decline, think again. It turns out that the top three mobile operating systems as measured by usage share doesn’t belong to the usual suspects iOS, Android and Symbian (in that order). Instead, the #2 spot belongs to an obsolete platform known as Oracle’s Java ME (the ME stands for Micro Edition), according to NetMarketShare. Java ME is a bland mobile platform that you’ll find on low-cost ‘dumbphones’ and on billions of mobile phones and PDAs.
A few months back Java ME was thrust into the #3 spot by Android, but it’s now retaken the #2 spot and is the fastest-growing mobile platform when measured in terms of usage share. This could only suggest two things. One, Android isn’t growing as much as we thought. Two, people are still gravitating to more economically friendly choices like what you get with dumbphones. We all know it can’t be number one, especially since Google’s mobile OS is activating 700,000 new devices each day.
According to Oracle 31 times more Java phones ship every year than Apple and Android combined … Really? Well, it isn’t far-fetched to see Java ME do so well, as our world economy continues to suffer. If you look at the chart below, you’ll see a noticeable spike right around the holidays, which to me suggest folks were looking to spend less on devices. At the end of the day, people are going to do the financially responsible thing when times are hard like getting a cheap handset. That said, I totally expect Android to reclaim the number two spot within the next few months.