Fragmenting Linux is not the way to beat Apple

In an attempt to copycat Apple's hardware-plus-software vertical approach to the mobile market, the Linux industry is fragmenting fast and risks undermining its best chance for beating the iPhone.

The mobile Linux market has always had more variants/distributions than sense, ranging from Google Android to LiMo to Moblin (now MeeGo) to Bada to WebOS name it. Whereas Linux has been a rallying force in the enterprise server market, with diverse competitors and partners collaborating on a common code base to save costs and boost innovation, in the mobile market Linux has tended toward entropy.

Such entropy … Read more

Tearing down Twitter's walls

Remember those crazy days of e-mail when you couldn't send messages between systems? Microsoft Mail customers could only send mail within their enterprise or to other customers of Microsoft Mail (ditto for the other systems). It wasn't until SMTP standardized things that e-mail could move between systems.

E-mail was interesting then, but it didn't really become dominant until it standardized around the SMTP messaging protocol.

Are we experiencing the same thing with Twitter?

Twitter has become hugely popular, but it remains a closed communication medium. Yes, it has opened its data stream and maintains an open API approachRead more

Open source as an antitrust strategy

The day open source became big business is the day that open-source development exploded. Yes, open source predates the moneyed interests hankering to use it to competitive advantage, but it really wasn't until IBM dropped $1 billion on Linux that companies began paying employees to write free software that the movement saw broad adoption.

That's when open source became more than an efficient way to develop software, and also became a great way to build a business.

However, adding open source to one's business is not magical pixie dust that guarantees its viability. As IBM's Bob Sutor explains:… Read more

Google Android: More than just a cheap date

For years, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM have used Linux to lower the cost of their hardware and software-based solutions, while keeping profit margins fat and healthy. Google, ever the quick learner, is now doing the same with Android.

The mobile market will never be the same.

Just as Google and others are using open-source software to lower barriers to adoption of their proprietary cloud offerings, so, too, is Google using open source to reduce the cost of mobile computing in order to drive uptake of its proprietary search-related advertising business in mobile.

Google CFO Patrick Pichette said as much in … Read more

SpringSource and MindTouch seek to redefine the application server

There was a time when vendors knew how to color inside the lines. A database vendor sold databases. An operating system vendor peddled operating systems. And application server vendors were in the business of selling application servers.

Customers knew what "application server" meant, which is what paved the way for low-cost, high-value open-source application servers like JBoss, Geronimo, and others to arise. The category was well understood. The only thing the customer had to decide was whether she wished to overspend on a brand-name application server or buy into an open-source upstart.

As the economy continues to pressure … Read more

What open source can learn from Apple

Open source's greatest strength may also be its Achilles' heel.

As a developer-driven phenomenon, much of the best open-source software ends up being written for other developers. For example, it's not surprising that Linux wins on the server (technical audience) but largely loses on the desktop (non-technical audience). Companies like Canonical and MindTouch can mitigate this by paying for usability design. But as an overall movement, it remains a weakness.

Apple has the opposite problem. It is religiously focused on usability, but struggles to open up to outside developers.

Even so, its attention to the user is something … Read more

Google: We want Chrome to grow the Web

Since the unveiling its own browser, Google's continued support of Firefox has been somewhat puzzling. But to the world's dominant Web search provider, helping increase the amount of Web use ultimately means more Google searches.

Google has been a good partner to Mozilla over the years, pumping tens of millions of dollars into the open-source foundation that have helped make Firefox arguably the best browser in the world.

More recently with the launch of its open-source Chrome browser, however, Google became both partner and competitor to Mozilla. Given the potential to hurt Firefox adoption, it's interesting to … Read more

Jetpack may be the only speed boost Firefox needs

OStatic reports that the latest build of Google's Chrome browser outpaces Firefox 3 beta 4, with up to 30 percent faster performance than its Chrome predecessor, but this report overlooks a speedier Firefox alternative (Firefox 3 beta 5 is zippier), but it also misses arguably the biggest advantage Firefox has over every other browser:

A massive, growing, deeply involved add-on community, one that is only going to get stronger with the release of Jetpack.

Google has talked about getting Firefox-like extensions for Chrome but it, like Microsoft's Internet Explore and Apple's Safari, woefully underdeliver on community.

Before … Read more

Time for Web 2.0 to wake up and smell the money

SAN FRANCISCO--Tom Foremski of Silicon Valley Watcher suggests that "you aren't are missing anything if you couldn't make it" to Web 2.0 Expo. That may be a bit strong, but one thing seemed to be almost entirely missing from the show: money.

Yes, there were plenty of sponsors spending money on the conference. There just wasn't much emphasis in the conference program itself on actually making Web 2.0 profitable for more than just Google, despite an entire track dedicated to Web 2.0 business models.

The one session, other than mine, that focused on the topicRead more

The open-source mandates are coming

Jeffrey Hammond, principal analyst at Forrester, just Twittered something that is about to hit the traditional software world like a ton of bricks:

Just got off the phone with a client who's been mandated to use [open-source software] because licensing costs are killing them.

Call it the beginning of the end, if you like, but it's coming. The last few decades of software have been an aberration, built upon the historical accident that is digitization. Or, rather, not the accident of digitization, but rather that for a relatively brief period of time, we've made believe that digital … Read more