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It's kida a moot point...
Posted Mar 30, 2011 6:35 UTC (Wed) by tajyrink (subscriber, #2750)
The mobile phone market really starts to be on the edge of commodity market, with Openmoko phones and reverse-engineered selected (older) Android-shipping hardware and Nokia N900 out there, plus the promised probably quite nice MeeGoish device from Nokia. One needs to spend time with any of those to use free distribution on the phone having the phone as the one to rely on, but for me desktop Linux is already so ready that I'm happy to have this mobile challenge and possibility to contribute in a meaningful way.
The possibility is already lost...
Posted Mar 30, 2011 7:51 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
The possibility is already there, the question is when do you jump into it.
The problem here is simple: the question of "when" is critical. Windows took the world when previous paradigm shift happened - when PCs grew from 16-bit toy computers to 32-bit multitasking-capable workstations. Microsoft won that battle and was able to successfully fight off all contenders till the next paradigm shift. Everyone expected that it'll be 64bit transition. And whoever will win this battle will be "king of the hill" for the next 30-50 years.
Of course history does not repeat itself... but it rhymes. This time major change, surprisingly enough, was not 32-bit to 64-bit transition (Microsoft was able to predict that one and pass it quite smoothly). It was form-factor change: computers migrated from top of the lap to pocket and, may be, in backpack too. I think we still have two-to-three years before final outcome will be known, but anything after that will linger on the edge of obscurity - no matter how good it'll be.
MeeGo seems to be a possibility of that date being earlier, and actually in better pre-installed amounts than Ubuntu.
MeeGo missed the big opportunity already. End of story. It may be ready to capitalize on the next paradigm shift in 10-15 years time. If it'll survive till then.
But the whole free software ecosystem is also so much more mature nowadays that the date can be quite soon if UI work and modem drivers are done.
It's not just a question of UI work. Till you have ISVs on board you'll just have another niche player. Akin to "Linux desktop" in the last 10 years. And "Linux desktop" was able to survive because hardware was [relatively] open: we had a Wintel duopoly, but actual computer systems were produced by bazillion computer makers, not by Microsoft or Intel.
The mobile phone market really starts to be on the edge of commodity market, with Openmoko phones and reverse-engineered selected (older) Android-shipping hardware and Nokia N900 out there, plus the promised probably quite nice MeeGoish device from Nokia.
The question is simple: how long it'll last? And what the end result will be? The most probable outcome is Rockbox fate: something used by a few enthusiasts but not something significant on the wide scale.
It's still pretty interesting, but it's not something to really brag about.
Posted Mar 30, 2011 16:03 UTC (Wed) by tajyrink (subscriber, #2750)
Is it so hard to understand?
Posted Mar 30, 2011 23:08 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
To summarize, I was not bragging about consumer device market shares, I was talking about using free software on mobile phones, and to more minor effect possibilities of getting pre-installed free software phones in the future.
It's almost the same thing. See Rockbox, OPIE, GPE, etc. Projects may survive but they'll be renegated to historical curiosity...
With "Ubuntu of mobile phones" I meant really smooth out-of-the-box experience for an average mobile phone user, similar to what Ubuntu offers to average desktop user at the moment (and these accomplishments have usually not much to do with market shares).
Volunteer free software community can do many things but polished desktop was not among them. To achieve that you need money. It's as simple as that. And if you don't want to operate at loss you need market share to recoup your investments in one form or another. Desktop Linux was mostly funded by success on server (RedHat, SUSE), and by VC (Eazel, Ubuntu, etc - it does not matter if the VC comes from the pocket of CEO... it's still VC). It's not really any different from the situation with Android (well, it's slightly different because RedHat and Ubuntu keep less stuff closed, but this difference is quantitative, not qualitative).
Now they don't prevent it anymore in mobile phones, and I disagree the trend would be going away.
It depends of Google and OHA. They keep the platform more-or-less open, but it may change. Currently it includes lots of video-related binary blobs, but it's open enough to be used as starting point... like desktop systems were open enough to be used as starting point because Windows was designed this way back before Microsoft become a monopoly.
The market shares are interesting from one view point and of course it's nice that Linux kernel soon has >50% market share in smartphones, but that or the market share of Linux in eg. televisions (all Sonys etc) are not really that interesting from the point of view of being interested in running self selected free software on those devices.
Yes and no. You don't really need open OS, but you need open hardware. Sure, you can run Linux even on totally locked-down platform like XBox360 or Wii, but porting takes years so in the end you lose all hope of ever running it on "latest and greatest" hardware - and then it's the road to the oblivion. But if your platform is "open enough"... well there are different possibiltities.
The biggest thing about Android are two facts:
1. It's Linux-based so it's "open enough" and
2. It's popular so there are lots of compatible hardware.
If Google really wants to close it the only thing it needs is to move it to different (probably proprietary) kernel - and then MeeGo, OpenMoko, "Freedom Android fork" and other such efforts will follow Rockbox, OPIE, GPE, etc to the oblivion. I doubt that's what Google plans to do, but given these facts such tantrums just look silly.
It seems so.
Posted Mar 31, 2011 6:38 UTC (Thu) by tajyrink (subscriber, #2750)
Volunteer free software community can do many things but polished desktop was not among them. To achieve that you need money.
It depends of Google and OHA.
Yes and no. You don't really need open OS, but you need open hardware.
It's simple, really.
Posted Mar 31, 2011 17:09 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
If a project is not widely regarded as a market share success, it's a historical curiosity and not a useful piece of software?
It depends on the ability to use it with contemporary hardware. If you can only buy the required hardware in the second-hand shops then it's historical curiosity.
I believe there are a lot of happy Rockbox users around, and all of them are a reason for Rockbox to be a huge success.
Well, Rockbox was a significant success - but that time has gone. Today it's very hard to buy a compatible hardware and few users bother. As userbase dwingles developerbase dwingles as well. It may be revived as software project (time will tell), but as an OS for hardware players it's basically dead already...
They are also not the most interesting ones either because of their relative closedness, but they might become more interesting in the future (there are many good things about them as well).
"Relative closedness"? Retaive to what? Symbian? MeeGo? Freerunner? Dead platforms, dead products... Like it or not Android is the most open viable platform today. If there are lots of companies who create more open hardware platforms I sure would like to hear about that.
Yes and no. You don't really need open OS, but you need open hardware.
Yes, and that's what we have today (of course even more open hw is always welcome than just "all host CPU driver sw is free") and I don't think it's going away.
I would like to share your optimism. I really do. But I fail to see what's it's based on. Hardware becomes more closed over time, not less. And if you want to provide some kind of platform you need the hardware to run it on. The most open widely available hardware is currently Android-based - and this is the most important factor.
Posted Apr 1, 2011 7:06 UTC (Fri) by mats (subscriber, #62046)
I just bought a new SanDisk Sansa Clip+ a few months ago for the sole purpose of running Rockbox. It was really easy to find (here in Europe at least) with many stores carrying it. Rockbox works perfectly on it and I am very happy with the purchase.
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