One person who believes that the mobile market is the way of the future is Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt. The recent Atmosphere conference, where many technology leaders presented new thoughts and ideas, was where Schmidt expressed the sentiment of increasing mobile importance.
To summarize, Schmidt stated that he believed that mobile solutions would be at the forefront within the next ten years, and that having the best mobile applications should be at the heart of a company’s focus. To achieve this focus, he said that companies’ best and brightest developers should be dedicated to providing the newest mobile innovations.
If the CEO of such a successful company as Google believes that mobile is the way to go, why does it seem that many do not follow that same train of thought, especially when it comes to the open-source world?
If you want an example of the lack of mobile focus within the open-source world, take a look at the small percentage of ongoing open-source mobile projects on Sourceforge.net, the largest available open-source software directory on the Internet. While there are over 2,000 mobile projects available, that number is extremely low when you consider that the site offers over 230,000 projects in all. Another example would be to search Google Code for mobile open-source projects, where you would find a disparity there as well.
Of course, these less-than-encouraging numbers do not mean that everyone is ignoring the mobile arena. One can take a look at the iPhone, for instance, which has some open-source software in the realm of publishing with WordPress, music with Noise, gaming with Wolfenstein 3D Classic, entertainment with Now Playing, and utilities with Funambol. The iPhone also offers some open-source software for developers such as TouchCode, OpenFlip, and iPhoney.
Google Android has joined the mobile open-source game as well with its Shelves application that allows users to manage books from their Android phones. Still, despite these examples, one has to wonder why more open-source developers are not hitting the mobile road running.
There could be a few reasons as to why this lack of mobile interest exists. Perhaps mobile technology is too complicated for some to grasp at this point in time, or maybe some just prefer to work with desktop or server environments. Some developers could have such extensive experience with desktop projects that they will continue to work in those areas simply out of familiarity. Despite these reasons, one would have to believe that many open-source developers will want to shift to the mobile side simply out of future demand.
One thing is for sure: if open-source developers want to keep pace with those of proprietary platforms when it comes to the mobile market, the time to move is now. If they decide to stick strictly within the desktop and server mold, they once again may be left in the dust.
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