AOL announces new open-source mobile platform. Who cares?

Mobile platform is missing two important qualities: broad relevance and a compelling purpose, says CNET Blog Network contributor Matt Asay.

AOL is jumping into open source and offering a new mobile platform. The real news here, however, is that AOL still exists. Its mobile platform will help developers to integrate with such applications as AIM, AOL Mail, AOL Video, MapQuest, Userplane, Truveo, Winamp, and others.

I use AIM (on Adium) and vaguely remember MapQuest (and once used Winamp), but is AOL's mobile-platform play meant to be a funeral dirge or a real effort to be relevant again? I just can't see too many people getting excited about this move. While its new open-source mobile platform will contain an XML-based, next-generation markup language, an ultra-lightweight mobile device client, and an application server, it will come without broad relevance and a compelling purpose.

You need those last two things to be relevant to developers.

Don't get me wrong: More open source is a very good thing, particularly in mobile where only Funambol has really carried the torch. But I'd rather see more from Google and its friends than from AOL.

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