Thursday, September 21, 2006


The Mobile Email conference in London has been great. I should have brought the entire company and a chunk of our 600k downloads there. Lots to learn. I will post about it later.

I landed in Italy last night. I am speaking at "
Congresso AICA 2006" today. Very interesting event (for Italian people only...) where we will talk about research, being competitive in the market and high tech. They even have a track on open source ("risk and opportunities of open source"), which tells me something. The Italian Minister of Innovation will be there, so I better put on a tie for once :-)

Sunday, September 17, 2006


I am flying to old Europe tonight. I will be speaking at the Informa Telecoms & Media Mobile E-mail 2006 in London on Wednesday at 14:45 (going with the European standard here ;-)

The topic is "Responding to Consumers Anxieties and Requirements in Order to Accelerate Mass Market Adoption". Are consumers really anxious about having mobile email on their devices?? I do not think so... I believe they are anxiously waiting for an easy-to-use low-cost technology... Anyway, I guess we'll find it out soon.

As usual, if you live and/or are around London, just give me a buzz.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

HPL version 1.0 is here

A month ago, I proposed a new license, called the Honest Public License (HPL). It is GPL v2 with an additional paragraph, clarifying that distribution of software as a service is exactly the same as distribution of software in a floppy. Therefore, GPL applies also when the software is used to provide a service to the public.

I left the license out for review for a month. I received a ton of comments on this blog and in many blogs and articles around the net. Evidently, I touched a nerve ;-) The feedback has been universally positive (and I have to admit I have been quite surprised). The only real negative comment I heard has been "yet another license". It is true, it is yet another license. But it changes the most important element of computing that was not covered in GPL, because it was written in 1991 when software was distributed in floppies and nobody knew what SaaS meant. For everything else, GPL is just fine. SaaS is the future of computing: HPL is just another incredibly important license ;-)

Anyway, here you find HPL 1.0 and here you find the diff between HPL and GPL v2. As I wrote a month ago, our next step is to have HPL disappear within GPL v3. That process is ongoing and I have no control on, so let's wait and see.

Regarding Funambol, we have decided to leave the clients on GPL v2 (no reason to change them to HPL, since there is no SaaS on clients). HPL will clearly end up in the incompatibility list of GPL, as AGPL before it (a license that tried to fix the same issue, but in a pretty "strong" way), so we would prefer people to be able to link clients based on GPL code. On the server side, to build SyncSources, you will have to use HPL. HPL affects every SyncSource, but it does not affect the product you are connecting the SyncSource to (if you talk to it with a separate protocol). Therefore, the impact should be minimal. Because of dual licensing, Funambol could also grant a special waiver for open source projects that cannot switch the SyncSource to HPL. Just give us a buzz. More to come in the new site after the launch of v 3.0 GA (very soon!).

I want to thank Patrick, Markus, Tomasz and Kari for the precious help in the review process. I just do not know what I would do without a community of people working on the project (wait, I know, I would be doing something else like opening a restaurant in Maui, probably called Funambol Italian Restaurant. THAT would be fun :-)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

CTIA - Los Angeles

For those that might be going there, I am flying tomorrow to CTIA in Los Angeles. I will be speaking at the SmartPhone Summit on Monday at 4 pm, track Mobile Messaging and Gaming. I'll be around on Tuesday, flying back on Tuesday night. My schedule is pretty much overbooked, but if you are around and you want to say hi, just drop me a note and I'll find some time. See you in the city of angels.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The road to push email goes through address book sync

It is funny how small things sometimes prevent big changes from happening. There is one that prevents the potential explosion of push email on mobile devices: the lack of address book synchronization.
If you have a cell phone, you have received and sent at least a message in your life. A short text message or SMS, but still a message. You are ready for push email. Today. You are ready to receive messages a bit longer pushed to your device and to send short messages (no, I am not a believer of a long messages typed with a keyboard installed on every phone on the planet, sorry. I like dumb phones because they look cooler and - guess what - the phone is mostly a fashion item, trust an Italian on that).
When you send a SMS today, you send it to a phone number. That's what you have in your phone address book today.
If you want to send an email, you have to send it to an email address. Would you type on your cell phone? No. Believe someone with a long first name and last name... You will not do it.
So... you will not use push email unless you have my email address on your phone. Since you are not going to type it, it must get on your phone from somewhere else (your Outlook, your Yahoo address book, your Skype address book and so on). You need address book synchronization, possibly pushed on your device when something changes.
Without address book sync, there is no push email. It is a small thing, but it is small blocking thing.
Thankfully, SyncML solves that, if paired with the right solution on the server side that actually works with your phone (warning: small advertisement here ;-)
The road to push email goes through address book sync.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Community Code Sniper Program

Jason, our smart and creative Community Manager, just launched a new great program, called Community Code Sniper.
The idea is pretty simple: we asked the community which clients or connectors they wanted with a survey, then we looked at our resources and we realized we could do only some internally. Others would be left out waiting for us to get more resources. Or we could ask the community to contribute to the effort. The tightrope walker in us suggested we should contribute back with cash, giving back to the community something we received because of them (thanks). All the code developed with the bounties will go back in open source for everyone to share, which will be very cool.
Some people picked up the news, and I really liked Dana blog on ZDNet (in particular, because Funambol comes before Red Hat :-)
Anyway, this is a great opportunity for all the people out there that are sending us resumes: if you think you are good, just prove it. You will even make money. And it will be fun. Having your address book synched between your Nokia or RAZR phone, your iPod, your Gmail or Yahoo address, Skype will be very interesting for millions of people (not just you). If you have a Mac, just take our client API and build an iSync plug-in, so we finally can sync our cell phones over-the-air with our Mac (and yes, I believe Steve Jobs will announce the iPod phone on Tuesday...).
(yep, I know, we are having fun at Funambol... "Code Sniper"... What a name... It shows we have a new VP Marketing :-))

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Off topic On vacation

I am writing this post from beautiful Maui, Hawaii. Mobile and Open Source are not really on my radar, these days... I am just enjoying the beaches and the great people. Vacation is the only thing I care about...
When it comes to vacation, I am in an interesting position: I run a company with a third of the people in Silicon Valley and two thirds in old Europe. That's the two extremes... 
For those not living in the USA, you would be surprised to know that people joining a company here normally get two (2) weeks of vacation a year. For a European moving to Silicon Valley, it is a shock. You have to take the two weeks to visit home for Christmas and then you have the other 50 weeks ahead of you... It is even more shocking that paying for receiving calls or SMS on a mobile phone, from someone who dialed the wrong number. American employers - I believe - are convinced that having you work for 50 weeks in a row keeps productivity high. What US employees do is working for two/three years in a company, then take two months off to recharge. They even have a word ("burnout") to describe how you can get exhausted, physically and emotionally. It happens to everybody in Silicon Valley, working for a startup. It is just stupid: the productivity of your employees is 100% the first six months, then goes to 70% the second year, then 40% the third. What's the benefit of having employees with low productivity??
In Europe, I never understood how people could take four weeks of vacation in a row without totally destroying what they did before. If you work for a startup, you come back after a month and the company is totally different ;-) It is just insane, from an employer standpoint. If I am out of the office for more than a week, when I get back I feel the stress of the work which piled up...
"In medio stat virtus" said the Latin: I believe you should take a week off every quarter. You actually must take a week off every quarter. I kinda enforce that on our tightrope walkers (and my wife enforces it on me...). Funambol gives four weeks of vacation to every employee, which is unheard off in the Valley... For me, it is just necessary to keep productivity levels at 100% all the time (and walk in an office where people are in a good mood most of the time, remembering that Funambol starts with Fun). I might be someone who generally does not like to swim in the mainstream (is snorkeling the mainstream?) but I am convinced to be right - at least on this one.
Now let me go back to vacation :-)