This is an excerpt of an article from ZDNet's sister site, TechRepublic.
Consolidation is coming to the smartphone market. It's simply a matter of when and how.
There are six big platforms vying for mainstream acceptance, and the market is likely to start weeding that number down to three to four over the next several years as all mobile phones become smartphones and as smartphones start replacing PCs for some users.
The platforms in the strongest position are the Apple iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry. The platforms that have some momentum but are still vulnerable are Google Android and Palm webOS. The platforms that are most at risk and are struggling the most technologically are Nokia's Symbian and Microsoft's Windows Mobile.
The first major consolidation move could involve Palm. The company has been rumored as a buyout target for years. However, after struggling to survive while rebuilding its platform under the leadership of former Apple executive Jon Rubinstein, Palm has had a big year in 2008 with the arrival of its new webOS and the launch of its first webOS device, the Palm Pre.
Despite the fact that the Pre and the webOS have been warmly received by users and the press, Palm still faces challenges. In June, the Pre was launched exclusively with Sprint, the weakest of the U.S. carriers and an acquisition target itself. While Palm aggressively marketed the Pre with its modest resources, Sprint has not been nearly as aggressive.