IT has seen a crazy year
Information Technology has seen a really crazy year. Among all the smaller incidents, the big bangs involved Nokia partnering with Microsoft, abandoning Maemo, HP driving with WebOS against the wall, patent lawsuits everywhere.
What that means for FOSS-lovers is clear… you can’t trust any company to continue working on anything. Business demands are what counts in the world of mass markets. If you want longterm support for a platform, your best bet is to build a community around it. But you will also want to work on hardware support otherwise you’ll run into the next dead end.
To be honest, right now I don’t see much of a future for any mobile Linux-inspired platform other than the mutation called Android. But that’s not much of a problem per se. The smartphone market is crazy. To compete in that world, you have to give up on freedom. But is the mass market really what we want? Is it what mobile Linux needs?
I don’t think so. There are still huge opportunities for using Linux-based mobile software platforms in niches such as machine2machine communication, home automation, research, teaching, and more. That’s where a service-based middleware like FSO comes into the game: for special interests. However, even niche-adoption is hindered without a minimal set of applications. And that is where we still lack: Even special interest people want to use their smartphones to manage contacts, browse the web, send mails, play media, etc. We don’t have an integrated software stack with a complete set of UI applications that would cover these needs. Openmoko worked on one, but failed. Nokia worked on multiple ones, but gave up (multiple times). What else do we have?
With HP’s recent announcement about releasing WebOS as open source, the game may have changed. If we could use the WebOS application stack on top of the FSO middleware, we may have a real chance to get something great and usable – and complete – soon. I have always liked the WebOS UI. If it’s a bit slower than other UIs, who cares as long as it is free?