A mobile Linux victory dance is premature

While the mobile Linux victory dance is fun it's just gotten you through the semi-finals. Linux has strengths, and it still has weaknesses, as a platform and as an ecosystem.

Never kick a man when he's down. Unless he's already down. And there are four of you.

It's an old soccer proverb, usually pulled out when the press is getting on a manager who is due to be fired anyway. It applies today in Linux Foundation head Jim Zemlin's victory dance post about Windows Mobile.

(Charles Schultz has been gone nearly 10 years now, but Snoopy still rakes in the simoleons.)

Jim's right on as far as he goes..

Microsoft's problem here is that its business model gives everything to Microsoft and very little to carriers or manufacturers. Linux versions offer a better deal. You can brand things your way, arrange them your way on the screen, point people to the resources you want them to use.

Of course if that's all true why is Apple still in the game? Why is the iPhone, not Linux, the dominant mobile platform?

I would argue it's because Microsoft has never committed itself the way Apple has, that it was late to the party, that it has compromised itself into this corner, unwilling to risk enough to make a breakthrough.

At this point a Microsoft-branded mobile phone needs to be better than an iPhone, it needs a ton of marketing behind it, it needs its own name and identity, and it needs Microsoft listed as the manufacturer.

Microsoft's position here is like the President on health care. Windows Mobile is the Joe Lieberman of mobile phones, and the only thing in the middle of the road is a yellow line.

Apple stands for something. You may not like what it stands for -- and as a good Linux leader I know Jim doesn't -- but it does stand for something. Apple has made itself the Republican Party of the smart phone world.

My point is not political. It's not about soccer. It's not even about cultural touchstones from the 1960s.

My point is about the commitment needed to make a proprietary platform a success. You have to get ahead of people, you have to brand like crazy, you have to take a risk. You can't be the chicken who laid the breakfast egg. You have to be the pig that gave the bacon.

Microsoft is committed to the desktop. Microsoft still beats Linux on the desktop. It crushes Linux on the desktop. I can hardly find a Linux netbook online anymore, even though Windows is slower than the Arctic temperature rise on a netbook. Watching the Windows hour glass on a netbook is like watching ice melt.

Point is while the mobile Linux victory dance is fun it's just gotten you through the semi-finals. Linux has strengths, and it still has weaknesses, as a platform and as an ecosystem. That's a fact worth remembering.

Now dammit Jim, will someone please make me a Linux netbook that boots fast, that runs clean, that has everything I need on it, that's rugged and doesn't cost over $300?