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Linux Climbs Fast in Mobile, Microsoft 'Screws' Badly with Windows Mobile 6.5

"[We] screwed up with Windows Mobile"

--Steve Ballmer, weeks ago



Old telephone



Summary: Free/open source software and UNIX to gain more at the expense of Windows based on the latest judgments

A READER from Brazil has suggested that we write something about Microsoft's latest launch of the dying Windows Mobile franchise. As Linux grows very rapidly in this area, it is probably worth posting evidence from the past day or so.



The following new post sheds light on the prospects of Sybmian, which is not only the dominant mobile phone platform but also one that turned to "Open Source".

According to Digitimes, handsets that run some flavor of Symbian will account for 180 million shipments by 2014, (currently 87 million Symbian handsets ship a year). Once the burgeoning Android handset market and LiMo shipments are added to that, total open source handset shipments will far surpass 220 million by 2014. Open Source handsets also drive more developers into Open Source as users need more and better applications for their shiny phones.


Google is still trying to dust off the injurious public revelation that Android not only leaves out GNU but that it is not entirely Free, either.

While the Android mobile operating system is open source, some of its most appealing features like tight Gmail integration and Google Maps are not

The search giant faced some criticism when it ordered developer Steve Kondik to stop distributing a custom build of Android because it utilised closed-source applications like Gmail and Google.


Putting all that aside, Google has just found a friend in Verizon.

The company that operates America's largest wireless telecommunications network now considers itself a friend of Android. Google and Verizon Wireless have sealed a deal that'll see the two working together on mobile products and services.


More in:

i. Google, Verizon teaming to develop Android devices

Verizon and Google have entered into an agreement to jointly develop wireless devices based on Google's open-source Android mobile platform.

During a teleconference today, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam and Google CEO Eric Schmidt outlined the companies' new strategic partnership that will develop Android-based smartphones, PDAs and netbooks, and deliver users with applications sold through the Android Market app store. Verizon says that it will have two Android-based handsets on the market by year-end with more to come by 2010.


ii. Android Gets a Big Backer in Verizon, and Palm Opens Up

The prospects for mobile open source just get brighter and brighter. Following months of rumors, Verizon Wireless has said that it will put substantial resources behind the open source Android platform, in a broad partnership with Google. Google and Verizon will work together to deliver new products and services that they say will arrive "in the hands of consumers quickly." Notably, both companies have pledged to put unique applications onto handsets, including apps from their internal developers and others from third-party developers.


Palm appears to have finally realised that opening up to developers is an essential step and concessions (over control) ought to be made. WebOS is built on Linux, but talks about free in the following context refer to price alone:

i. Palm: open-source webOS apps free to make

Palm at a special event tonight staked out its differences with Apple by making key changes to its developer program. The smartphone developer is one of the first after Google to foster open development and said it will dismiss its usual $99 app submission fee for any developer whose webOS apps are open-source. Back end data on app downloads and other sales info will also be available to all developers on request.


ii. Palm launch Open Source Developer Program

Palm has announced a programme for open source developers wishing to write for Palm's Linux based WebOS. For closed source applications the Palm developer programme requires an upfront fee of $99 (€£62) from developers, with a $50 (€£31) fee for each app that is published through Palm's App Catalogue. For open source developers both the up front fee and the per app fee is waived. Palm's WebOS currently only runs on Palm's Pre and Pixi phones; the Pre is due to be available in the UK from the 16th of October from O2.


Now that Microsoft makes another attempt at Windows Mobile, it seems likely that its market share will continue to erode. As The Inquirer puts it, "No one knows or cares that Microsoft has a phone OS."

According to the speakers, the vast majority of people buying a new phone come in looking for a specific make or feature, rather than a particular operating system or app store.


The 'new' Windows Mobile (6.5) is already being reviewed and the outcome could not be more terrible. Even fans of Windows Mobile are disappointed. The early reviews that we found are:

IDG: Windows Mobile 6.5 Arrives, Mostly Disappoints

Finally, damning Windows with faint praise, Takahashi ends the article gabbing about how fantastic Apple iPhone is: "But for now, the iPhone has a number of advantages over Microsoft. The upshot: you can still get a much better experience with an iPhone, which has superior multi-touch capabilities and accelerometer-based controls that work wonderfully in some apps. And there's still far more choice available on the iPhone." Yikes. Sounds like a review for a different product.


Gizmodo: Windows Mobile 6.5 Review: There's No Excuse For This

I'd like to think that 6.5's stunning failure to innovate is a symptom of a neglected project—maybe Microsoft just needed something, anything to hold people over until the mythical Windows Mobile 7 comes out, whatever it is. But as Steve Ballmer himself has plainly admitted, it's worse: Microsoft has simply lumbered in the wrong direction for two years, letting everyone, save maybe Nokia, fly right past them.


ZDNet: Windows Mobile 6.5 disappoints; no Start customizations and stylus still required

I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this point release, but I was expecting more than what Microsoft delivered. I expected to be able to place icons where I wanted them on the Start displays, I expected to have finger friendly menus throughout the OS, and I expected some attention to the media player, device search, and more.

I am a fan of Windows Mobile, but find very little added value in this Windows Mobile 6.5 release and would never recommend anyone actually purchase a new device just to get this update on their smartphone. We are going to have to wait and see if Microsoft can pull anything out of the hat in Windows Mobile 7, but with the current schedule of late 2010, most likely slipping into 2011 like this release, I think the T-Mobile Touch Pro2 may be my last Windows Mobile device for quite some time.


MobileCrunch: Windows Mobile 6.5 Review: It Still Sucks.

Windows Mobile 6.5 is a spit and polish job on 6.1 – nothing more, nothing less.


At this pace, Windows Mobile's chance of survival roughly equates to that of the Zune.

"It puts the Linux phenomenon and the Unix phenomenon at the top of the list."

--Steve Ballmer, 2001

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