Illusion of freedom
Mobile’s open-source and free software movement is neither
Ahhh. breathe the fresh network providers, especially in areas like Digital Rights Man-air of freedom. Bask in the the United States, are still call- agement and hardware lock-invigorating glow of open ing the shots. It doesn’t matter ing, Nokia sometimes seems
choices, options and, of if your phone is open or not. to not be quite as enamored of
course, source. If Verizon or AT&T doesn’t let open-source principles.
Why all the excitement? it run on its network, then it I don’t want to sound too
The open-source and free soft- won’t run on its network. cynical. Like most regular
ware movement is coming to I know the terms of the users, I’m hoping for a day
the mobile market. spectrum auction stipulate when I have as much freedom
Finally the most locked open access for the new spec- of choice and options in the
down and proprietary of tech- trum, but there’s plenty of wig- mobile Internet space as in the
nology arenas will open up to gle room in that agreement for PC-based Internet. After all,
user choice and customization. wily telecoms to slip through access to the mobile Internet
Just as users of the traditional and continue their stranglehold is poised to become in some
Internet are free to run any
operating system and choose
any ISP, mobile phone users
will be able to run open-source The mobile network
software and applications, and providers still call the
easily move between providers. shots in the United States.
Just look at all of the
momentum. There’s Google
Android working on providing
an open mobile platform and on mobile Internet access. ways more important than PC-
several smaller Linux-based And as for that Nokia prom- based access.
platforms that are already pow- ise to open-source Symbian, I’ll But the mobile network pro-
ering some phone systems. believe it when I see it. viders are free of the concept
And Nokia announced it will In many of its public of network neutrality and are
buy and open-source Symbian, discussions with the open- happy to stay that way. Hope-
the largest cell phone platform. source community, Nokia fully this situation will change,
Soon all of us mobile users has sounded much like a especially if improved and
will be free to do what we want company that wants to gain all more open wireless standards
any time. Or not. the open-source benefits with- become more common.
When I look at these devel- out committing to any of the But for now, don’t get too
opments, especially Nokia’s responsibilities. Sure, Nokia excited about all the talk of
announcement about open- loves the idea of open-source freedom and openness in
sourcing Symbian, I don’t see developers doing free work to mobile systems. ´
the same thing I do when I extend open-source software.
look at something such as But when it comes to things Chief Technology Analyst Jim
Linux on PCs. such as providing code back to Rapoza can be reached at
That’s because the mobile the community, especially in firstname.lastname@example.org.