Come February 18th we will usher in the year of the Pig, but not just any Pig, the Fire Pig. Many Chinese believe that having children in this year will mean the kids will grow up lucky and essentially have an easier life. Fire Pigs breathe new life into everything they do. These Pigs are vivid, motivated and cannot be deterred from a goal once they have set it.
Looking at Linux in the perspective of the Pig, we know that Richard Stallman began his path down the open source road at MIT, and Unix version 1 was written in 1971. In 1983 Stallman announced the GNU project and SCO Xenix was released. Outside of these events, there were no other major open source events in the Year of the Pig. However, Apple released its first GUI in 1983, and Windows 95, well I think that speaks for itself. Maybe 2007 will prove to be Linux's year.
News of Motorola's release of two new models, ROKR E6 and MING A1200, PDAs, utilizing Linux, as well as the launch of a Linux mobile phone in Hong Kong by a Shanghai-based company called E28 shows that Linux has taken the fight to a new field of battle--wireless. Japan's NTT DoCoMo has already adopted Linux for it 3G phones.
The Linux kernel being utilized in mobile phones is nothing new, I recall engineers from Nokia presenting to the BLUG (Beijing Linux User Group) in 2003 about how they had developed a whole range of tools for the kernel and how these tools furthered the development and testing of Nokia phones. I also recall Peter McDermott of Nthcode coming in and presenting Motorola phones running on Linux in 2005.
Apple is already off to a big start with the iPhone, E28 seems to be a silent contender and possible champion for bringing Linux to the commercial fore front, and fortunately Microsoft is still pushing the old business model to non-innovative partners happy to bleed this model for all its worth.
So what does this all mean? To me, the new frontier is the mobile phone. Apple enlightened us in the 80's, Windows exploded in the 90s and well into 2000. However, PC computing is a fading monster. The Internet is allowing virtual computing to become a reality and if we could agree on a measure for productivity, I would argue mobile phones are well on their way to making desktops obsolete. So, Apple had its decade, Microsoft had theirs, its only fair in this world of Ying and Yang that Linux gets a taste of the glory.
Last question, where does China fit into all of this? Well, a market like China is great for new technologies and solutions to proliferate. I hope Microsoft is successful in its fight against piracy, as the Chinese, with their burgeoning salaries and hunger for an easier life won't be turning to bulky desktops and costly software. Stylish, cost-effective and fully integrated solutions are what will dominate this market, as well as all the developing markets of this world