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Mapping the mobile open source ecosystem

Dec 3, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

From Android's launch to the upcoming open-source Symbian, open source has emerged as a driving force in the world of mobile devices, writes VisionMobile's Andreas Constantinou in a whitepaper. Constantinou breaks down the major open-source technologies, using charts to help sort through the confusion.

(Click for larger view of Qigi's new “i6-Goal” Android phone)

In “Mapping open source into mobile: who, where and how,” Constantinou cites numerous mobile open-source developments over the last year, ranging from Intel's Moblin project to Nokia announcing plans to open-source Symbian to the launch of Android phones (such as the newly announced i6-Goal from Qigi and TechFaith Wireless, pictured above). “It seems that in the space of just one year open source has transitioned all of a sudden from geekware for Linux enthusiasts to a successful commercial alternative to closed-door standards,” writes Constantinou.

Constantinou then proceeds to categorize the overlapping open source technologies and the organizations behind them. Using tables, charts, and analysis, he discusses the “who” (major companies and organizations), the “where” (which products and platforms use open source code, and how much), and the “how” (licenses and governance models). Along the way, he makes several observations, including:

  • “2009 will be the year of maturity for how open source can be used as a tool for cheaper, faster collaborative software development.”
  • “The lower you go towards the base of the software stack, the more open source software you're likely to find.”
  • “The GPL license is rarely used in mobile. This is one of the reasons for the zero adoption of Sun's Java phone ME by handset OEMs.”

A technical researcher with a Ph.D. in compression algorithms, Constantinou heads up research efforts at VisionMobile, a firm that publishes commissioned research as well as subscriber-supported reports. In a guest editorial for LinuxDevices published in June, Constantinou argued that an open source Symbian would put additional pressure on Linux stack suppliers and phone integrators.


The whitepaper by Constantinou, “Mapping open source into mobile: who, where and how,” is available in the LinuxDevices Articles section, here.

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