Can Open Source Offer an Edge in the Mobile Phone Space?


It's all mobile phones all the time in the tech press these days, what with T-Mobile's G1 debuting, Google opening the Android source code, Symbian cozying up to open source developers and RIM announcing its BlackBerry app store. In the mainstream news, of course, the big story is the economy.


Blogger Dave Rosenberg is looking at both: the mobile market and the economy. He wants to know whether "iPhone envy" will spur innovation and growth in the open source mobile market. In a CNET News post he writes:

We can definitely expect to see companies and consumers cutting mobile expenses as they look for ways to reduce overall budgets and spending... With Apple as a clear leader in mobile innovation, will other mobile vendors be able to keep up as budgets are tightened?

At least one exec says open source mobile companies have an advantage in a slumping economy because they can do more with less. Funambol CEO Fabrizio Capobianco told Rosenberg open source companies will also do well because "customers prefer the staying power and flexibility that an open mobile-developer community provides."


Open source companies in other market segments are thinking along similar lines, as Alfresco's Matt Asay told me in an interview not long ago:

Not only does open source lower the acquisition cost for software, but we also dramatically decrease risk. A CIO doesn't have to guess whether our software is going to work for her: she can download the software, try it out, pilot it, and then come back to buy support as required. CIOs have less risk of failed IT projects with open source, and efficiency is the name of the game in a downturn.

Time will tell whether open source really is the silver lining in this economic cloud.