Will open source succeed in the mobile space?

Open source has come to the forefront of the mobile space this year in a big way.  Nokia spun off Symbian and created the Symbian Foundation to put the mobile OS into open source to drive development.  Google’s Android made a big splash with its openness designed to drive development by removing obstacles for adoption.  It sounds like the mobile space is getting more open than ever and that things should be rosy for the way forward.  A recent presentation by John Bruggeman, Chief Marketing Officer of Wind River, given at the Open Source in Mobile conference in Berlin paints a radically different picture.

Wind River is a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance behind Android and a Core Member of LiMo, the mobile Linux foundation dedicated to the advancement of Linux on mobile devices.  Bruggeman’s presentation carried all the more weight as a result of his company’s heavy involvement of the open source drive and is surprising to say the least.  His talk covered five main points:

1.Linux phones will never be as good as the iPhone

2.The mobile industry has been confused and misled by the Symbian Foundationannouncement

3.Operators insist on hedging their bets

4.Phone manufacturers won’t let go of the past

5.Too many people in the mobile value chain just don’t get it

His talk has generated a lot of buzz including a response by David Wood, a VP at Symbian who takes issue with Bruggeman’s main points, especially point #2 about Symbian.  It definitely would appear that things are heating up over the Symbian Foundation and how they are working with the development community and it will be worth keeping an eye on this as it can have a far-reaching impact on the mobile space.


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