Thursday, October 2, 2008

Open source goes mobile

The next shot across the bow of proprietary systems has been fired... by none other than Google. You may start seeing the ads hit in the coming days for the G1 Smartphone. It doesn't yet have the range of business apps (Exchange/Outlook integration, desktop synchronization) that business users need, but the operative word here is yet. It's built on an open source platform, which opens it up to every crazy and creative developer on Earth. Give it 12 months, and seamless integration with all kinds of enterprise technology will be right there.

The first thrust of their strategy is to go after the consumer market, with support for YouTube, along with the (to be expected) GMail and other Google apps. To me, however, the big drawback is that the device is only available through T-Mobile. As you know, wireless carriers restrict the devices that will work on their networks. They do this for a lot of reasons, but the main one is that they can. And absent an antitrust ruling, they will continue this practice indefinitely. So, that leaves us with a choice between a superior phone (iPhone or G1) on and inferior network, or a superior network (Verizon Wireless) and a second-class phone (BlackBerrys, Palms, Motorola Q's). At some point, someone will set us free.

Nevertheless, it should come as no surprise that Google is leading the way into this market. They have been the true innovators for the past 5-10 years. Apple and Microsoft are still trying to figure out how to play this new game.

InformationWeek's article on the new G1: Google's new Smartphone

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