Open source mobility lags

Open source mobility lags

Summary: As much fun as it may be to tweak Microsoft, or dream of open source breaking the Microsoft monopoly, the fact remains that mobile monopolies are tighter, bigger (in terms of units) and under much less threat from open source programmers.

TOPICS: Mobility

Sony Ericsson K700One area of open source development that really lags is the area of mobile or cellular phones.  (They're mobile in England, cellular here, two peoples still separated by a common language.)

Mobiles are the most popular computing platform on the planet, yet Sourceforge lists barely a hundred projects specifically for mobile phones.

The reason, of course, is that mobile environments are highly proprietary. Most run on proprietary operating systems, and carriers add (or subtract) features and instructions for proprietary reasons.

Many such projects come from market failures. Among the more popular is the floAt Mobile Agent. It's designed to link your Windows PC to mobile phone data (which sounds neat), but it currently supports only the Sony Ericsson feature set. The project lists 29 developers and four project managers. Geekzone compares it to PhoneKing, a Windows Mobile program.

As much fun as it may be to tweak Microsoft, or dream of open source breaking the Microsoft monopoly, the fact remains that mobile monopolies are tighter, bigger (in terms of units) and under much less threat from open source programmers.

Care to change that?

Topic: Mobility

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  • RE: Open source mobility lags

    The only open source mobility I care to see advance is laptops. Screw cell phones. A phone is a communication device to be used to talk to another human or in most cases a recording of said human.

    I still don't own a cell, and I run my business just fine without it. It's just another over rated toy that keeps the masses entertained. Which goes to show the true intellectual capacity for most people.
    Linux User 147560
    • Word!!

      I agree 100% with you, Linux User.

      I certainly own a cellphone, but I don't care about nMpx cameras, or high definition 2" by 1" color displays or polyphony (well, I've thought of some uses for that acutally, but only a couple). I don't [b]need[/b] and there's no one on this green earth that will convince me otherwise... Nor I feel like I want one either... Only in a few cases I can [i]justify[/i] all the added bloat and that's when you're talking about a BalckBerry or a phone with a built-in PDA... the way things are heading, phones will be PDAs with telephony capabilities. Capabilities that I?ve managed [b]not[/b] to need, depend or rely up on.

      Better notebook/laptop mobility and mature wireless, better and longer battery life with OpenSource OSes and systems, now [b]THAT's[/b] interesting... In the current state of things, still M$ Windows has a too high edge (IMO) in that department when compared to Linux on laptop PCs. Take for instance the VAIO I'm writing this on. It's got two batteries, running Fedora 4 with CPU scaling and throttling in place, etc, but I'm only able to squeeze 3 hours bat-life compared to 6 hours, same config in WinXP Home!! That's frustrating!
    • One step further

      I agree with you regarding cell phones. Although I TRIED to avoid cell phones, the wife needed the leash and I was forced to get one. I use it occasionally, but its hardly something that I can't live without.

      While you could care less about cell phones, I could care less about laptops. I see no use for them. Really. Just as a cell phone is a spousal leash, a laptop is unpaid overtime. Games just suck on laptops, and if you're AT work and AT your desk, you can use a desktop PC. So that leaves WHAT? WORKING when NOT at your desk. I suppose that people without a traditional desk job would have a use for it, but that's it.

      Most people have a laptop for the "gee whiz" aspect, and don't really "need" them any more than they "need" a cellphone.
      Roger Ramjet
      • RE: One step further

        In some cases I can agree with you about the laptop, but in my case I am self employed so the laptop provides me the abiltiy to work from anywhere there is a hotspot.

        Plus when I go to a clients I use my laptop to access my servers at home if I need software or access to files. So in my case the laptop is the best solution, but running Linux it does have a tendancy to eat the battery a bit faster than XP or 2K and I did have to do some tweaking to get ACPI to work.

        But paring it down to Fluxbox on a trimmed kernel and all, I am now at 95% of the battery life Windows would provide. Not too happy about that either, but it works. Oh and I am using Ubuntu 5.04 on a Toshiba Satelite A15-129 laptop.

        I know I can get better battery life outta this thing, I just need the Linux coders to do it. To be honest that level of coding is out of my league at the moment.

        But any electronic device today is a leash. I find myself moving further away from technology as time goes by. Hmmm kinda strange really.
        Linux User 147560
  • Ch, ch, ch, changes...

    I think your assessment is right on; the proprietary world in the mobile space is like the line at DMV ? seems like it?s never going to move.

    But the line at DMV eventually does move. Are the proprietary forces in the mobile space really under less threat from open source companies than those from other markets? Maybe not.

    Open standards and open source software are beginning to emerge in mobile as they did when they helped spark the explosion of the Internet. Consider SyncML ( In the U.S. alone, more than 80 percent of the handsets shipped in 2005 will support this open standard.

    One company to check out is the new mobile open source company, Funambol ( It launched earlier this month and supports the Sync4j ( open source project, the standard implementation of SyncML. It provides an open source mobile application server for wireless developers working on a variety of applications. The result? Mobile device synchronization, provisioning and management regardless of mobile platform.

    It appears to be catching on; in July alone, reported more than 18,000 downloads of Sync4j.