By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
February 19, 2011
February 19, 2011

Who remembers Maemo, imode, MeeGo or, for that matter, Windows Mobile?

To counter Stephen Elop’s remark that by joining forces, Nokia NOK and Microsoft MSFT were going to make it a “three horse race” — implying that Apple’s AAPL iOS and Google’s GOOG Android were the only other viable mobile ecosystems in the running — Asymco‘s Horace Dediu did some digging and produced the chart at right.

It shows the lifespan of 16 major mobile operating systems, several of which have died and two more — Symbian and MeeGo — that Nokia seems ready to put out to pasture.

“What I find noteworthy,” writes Dediu, “is that there is an implied peculiar fatalism about the market when only two platforms are considered viable, neither of which are more than 3 years old. While visiting the Mobile World Congress, I sensed this jumping to conclusions about platforms was eerily similar to that of a few years ago when new entrants like Apple and Google were declared dead on arrival.”

For the rest of his post, click here.

Also on Fortune.com:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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