Locative Lab

researching locative media

Take Note… Google’s Android Might Not Replicate Previous Java OS Plays

Google’s news on the Open Mobile Alliance last week (www.openmobilealliance.com) is a little bit like a firecracker. A big bright glow of news, and then a long wait until the results are seen in handsets – tentatively penciled in for Q4 2008 (but expect that to slip). Much like the iPhone, there are contrasting views around the telecoms world on just what this announcement could mean to the landscape.

Let’s face it, this isn’t the first time that a Linux operating system has been proposed… to name one high profile candidate how about Access (nee Palm’s) vapourware like version of Palm OS? Nor is it one with a Java middleware or application suite – Sava JE went down that road (and actually had Java right to the kernel as well). That set the world alight in case you hadn’t noticed.

Symbian, initially the company with the most to loose, have already decried the endeavour as lacking experience. “About every three months this year there has been a mobile Linux initiative of some sort launched,” Symbian’s VP of Strategy, John Forsyth, tells the BBC. “It’s a bit like the common cold. It keeps coming round and then we go back to business. We don’t participate in these full stop. We make our own platform and we are focused on driving that into the mobile phone market at large ever more aggressively.”

And as long as Nokia continue to use Symbian, they’ll be okay.

What’s more interesting to watchers of Symbian (launched in 1999 with Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and Psion all holding an equal stake), is that two of the current licencees, Samsung and Motorola, are involved. While Samsung has always kept Symbian at arm’s length, the involvement of Motorola is going to, yet again, draw attention to Motorola’s haphazard strategy for smartphones. Only last month saw Motorola invest heavily into the Symbian ecosystem with their purchase of 50% of UIQ, an interface layer from Symbian OS.

Of course Symbian now has 8 manufacturers licensing their ‘Open Mobile Operating System,’ and a further 134 partners in their Platinum Program (which includes Google!). That puts the Open Mobile Alliance’s 34 partners into context. While yes, platforms have come and gone, they always say past performance is not an indication of future prospects, we shouldn’t be writing off Google just because we’ve seen something similar before.

After all, Altavista was pretty good as well


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Cityscape LocativeLab.org is Ronald Lenz's research website on locative & mobile media. This is mostly an archive of blogposts I find inspiring and interesting and an overview of my work. I'm a strategist, technologist and researcher in the field of Location-Based Mobile Services and work at Waag Society, a medialab in Amsterdam, The Netherlands where I head the Locative Media research program and at 7scenes, a platform for GPS games and tours as creative director. Picture 4 Find me at Twitter, LinkedIn or via ronald [at] waag [dot] org.

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