I remember the battle for capturing the title of “Open” in the computing world and now it seems that the same battle is making its way into the Mobile Computing world with the launch of Google Android. Let’s look back at a bit of computing history for reference: Microsoft used the word “Open” in their battle with Apple and we all know the history after that. Sun Microsystems was the king of “Open” when it bet the whole company on this word until Linux arrived and took the title away by confusing “Open” with “Open Source”. Is history going to repeat itself in the Mobile Computing world? In this Blog, we will address Mobile Computing Platforms and which of the platforms qualify for the word “Open”.
What we learned from the PC experience was that the Mobile Computer has to be open not just to application software but also to third party hardware. So next time you’re shopping for a Mobile Computer/Phone ask about the following to establish if the Mobile Computer is Open from a hardware perspective. Does the device offer the following?
- An ability to change your battery without having to pay an additional hefty fee to the manufacturer?
- An ability to easily add memory without having to go back to the vendor or ship your device to the manufacturer?
- A standard computer connectivity interface like USB or Bluetooth?
- A standard RCA headphone jack that can be used with the hands free device of your choice?
- A power supply that works across global power outlets or at least offers the ability to charge the device from your PC?
- GPS that doesn’t drain the battery every time you use it
If you evaluate mobile phones on these features, some will fail. So, my conclusion is that we are still far away from getting to the Open Mobile Computing world from a hardware perspective.
So now you ask what will make your mobile computer/phone more open from a software perspective. Well that’s where the Mobile OS openness counts more. Here is a somewhat simplified version of questions you should ask to establish if a particular Mobile OS is more open than others in no particular order of importance. Does it offer:
- An ease of software development in form of software tools, documented APIs, development kits and application examples?
- Support of software developers in form of bulletin boards and developer forums?
- The ability to run applications in the background?
- A light OS in terms of limited demands on hardware requirements?
- A secure OS so that damage caused by viruses and worms can be prevented?
- A simple or Universal Application Signing where an application that has already been certified once can work on any mobile network?
From an end-user perspective an Open OS results in the ability to have many applications running in the background, but hopefully your Mobile Phone won’t be prone to the same performance problems that have plagued our PCs.
Here’s a sample of popular mobile OS’s and how they compare to one another:
R. Paul Singh CEO