Where is the future for openness in mobile?

These are tough times for fans of open mobile environments. Android is less and less open, Symbian was closed again, HP stopped making webOS devices, and now Intel abandoned MeeGo to work with Samsung and operators instead. So, what is the community to do?

One option is to follow the lead of the big companies, hoping that Tizen works, or that Google again sees the benefit of working with others in the open.

The other is to take the matters in our own hands. There is precedent for this. Much of early Linux activity came from the efforts of the community, not on the initiative of corporate interests. And there have been OpenMoko and Mer, the latter an attempt to make a fully open version of Nokia's Maemo environment, suspended when MeeGo promised to bring the same benefits.

Well, now Mer is back.

mer-400.jpg

The goals for Mer align pretty well with what the community would need:

  • To be openly developed and openly governed as a meritocracy
  • That primary customers of the platform are device vendors - not end-users.
  • To provide a device manufacturer oriented structure, processes and tools: make life easy for them
  • To have a device oriented architecture
  • To be inclusive of technologies (such as MeeGo/Tizen/Qt/EFL/HTML5)
  • To innovate in the mobile OS space

There have also been some other invitations to new potential homes for the community, ranging from openSUSE to Debian.

It will be interesting to see how this works out. But whatever we as a community do, we should ensure we look at more than just licensing.