Fabrizio Capobianco, CEO of open-source mobile leader Funambol, has more or less declared that Windows Mobile is dying. Indeed, it's arguably the case that the proprietary software model, generally, is largely dead in mobile.
Why is mobile computing shifting to open source? Because the mobile world has learned from the desktop wars with Microsoft, Capobianco argues:
(Hardware) vendors have seen what happened to them in the PC world. Totally marginalized. They won't let Microsoft or anyone else do it in mobile as well. They are much smarter now. They know they have to control their destiny and differentiate on the (operating system) as well. They know the answer is open source.
While it is true that Apple and Research In Motion seem to be doing quite well with their end-to-end, proprietary-everything models, those two companies represent a small slice of the overall market for embedded software on mobile devices.
From mobile phones to Wi-Fi routers, open source increasingly dominates because, ironically, it doesn't dominate. Open source cedes control of the software to the hardware vendors, a fact they appreciate and embrace.
So although I expect to see Apple and its kind thrive by resolving complexity for consumers, I also suspect that we'll see rapid uptake in open source by hardware manufacturers desperate to distinguish themselves from the pack.
The easiest way to do that? With software. The easiest software to modify and customize? Yep, it's open source.
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