Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An unlocked iPhone in the US?

The Apple buzz machine is starting to get going for the June launch of the 3G iPhone. Be ready to hear any possible rumor, from GPS support, an iPhone with a keyboard, a Mini iPhone, a Large iPhone (a laptop real replacement). Until Jobs shows up on stage, it will be just rumors.

One very interesting came up yesterday on Fortune. In a nutshell:
When the 3G iPhone is introduced this summer, AT&T, the exclusive U.S. iPhone sales partner with Apple, will cut the price by as much as $200, according to a person familiar with the strategy.

AT&T is preparing to subsidize $200 of the cost of a new iPhone, bringing the price down to $199 for customers who sign two-year contracts, the source says. Apple is expected to have two versions of the new iPhone, an 8-gigabyte-memory and a 16-gigabyte-memory model with price tags widely expected to be $399 and $499.
I have seen many reactions to this story, mostly linked to the low price of the device and the fact this will make sales explode for Apple.

One thing I haven't read (yet) but I feel it is the real story: if at&t subsidizes the phone to $199, why would I buy a $399 phone at the Apple Store? One and only reason: because it would be unlocked... A phone you can use with Tmobile and overseas.

It is not impossible, since Apple is doing it in Europe already (although the price of the unlocked phone is way higher than $399), but it is very strange. Everywhere we read that at&t had a lock (pun intended) on the iPhone in the US for five years. The story above calls at&t
"the exclusive U.S. iPhone sales partner with Apple". If Apple comes up with an unlocked phone in the US after one year, than the lock was unlocked pretty fast. How exclusive is that?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Twitting about Twitter

Twitter is a very interesting phenomenon, that I have been following for a while now. It has a significant mobile component to it, so it fits my world. Actually, it is way more than just a mobile app. It is a mobile messaging app. And that's the space Funambol is in ;-)

Could Twitter be the answer to SMS?

I doubt it, but it is an interesting idea. SMS is about notifying people of events ("let's meet there") and having brief direct conversations ("what about lunch?"). Twitter is very similar. It is a notification engine (broadcast) and a point-to-point messaging platform (when you add @name).

What sets the two apart is the concept of following someone or being followed. Following someone means receiving every message that person sends out. This is where Twitter differentiates itself. It is a micro-blogging platform first, a messaging platform second.

And micro-blogging has its own problems. The number one issue, in my opinion, is what I call Twitter Diarrhea. It is an illness that attacks people that believe the world is really interested in everything they say. People that tweet every 10 minutes, tell you they are about to take a shower (like I care) and fill up your list of tweets in an hour.

The only defense against the disease is to stop following them. It is sad, because one of the 20 tweets is actually interesting. But when you have a "push" concept as in Twitter, message overload is a very significant challenge. In the last week, I stopped following at least five people I know well. Their interesting stuff / noise ratio was getting way too low.

When you move this into the mobile world, where you have limited real estate on screen and attention span (forget bandwidth, which is not a real issue with messaging), Twitter Diarrhea could actually be the outcome of a virus that infects the entire system, then tries to kill it.

It will be very interesting to see how the system reacts to it. And how it evolves to become a mobile messaging platform, if it will ever happen.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Are you an agile funambulist?

Our team in Pavia (Italy) is looking for an Agile Project Manager. It is a very cool job for someone who knows how to walk on a tight-rope and play foosball, all being very agile. We have been doing Agile Programming and SCRUM for a while now, and I have a feeling we are not going back to the old way...

Check if you have what it takes:
This position fills a key role in the company by establishing and managing an agile software development process.

Education and Experience
Various degrees of education and experience will be considered provided the applicant's experience demonstrates the following requirements:
* Bachelor of Computer Science or Engineering degree
* or more years experience in project management of coplex projects
* Excellent communication, fact discovery, and follow through skills.
* Experience in a commercial software development firm
* Experience with open source software
* Demonstrated leadership and implementation of company-wide initiatives, in particular with regard to the software development process
* Experience with managing releases for multiple titles on multiple concurrent platforms

* Collecting input from engineering on feature implementations and development time
* Creating and maintaining the agile software development process.
* Reporting back project milestones to head of engineering and product management
* Identifying engineering issues that impact development and work with core product team (Product Management, Engineering, Quality Assurance) to resolve those issues.
* Providing feedback on development milestones
* Skills/Abilities/Knowledge/Personal Suitability
* Excellent understanding of the software development process (Tools and Techniques) , in particular agile development processes
* Solid understanding of SCRUM
* Solid understanding of Open Source Software Development
* Good Understanding of Software Quality Assurance Practices
* Basic Programming Knowledge (OOP, C++, Automation Scripting)
* Highly Focused on Continuous Improvement
* Able to work in and with a remoted team
If you feel you are the right candidate, please send us your resume at

Friday, April 25, 2008

AGPL for Ubuntu

Thanks to Matt, I found this article on the Register about Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical's chief executive. He has said AGPL is "a strong candidate" for the eventual open source release of Launchpad, Canonical's developer collaboration tool.

This would be a very nice push for AGPL. We need some brand (yep, Ubuntu is a brand, all developers know about it) pushing the license forward. Clearly, having Google behind it would be even better, but it is not happening (yet).

Let me try this: Chris (DiBona), can we agree on a number of AGPL projects in the Palamida Watch List to pass your "popular" bar? When is a license considered popular enough to be included in Google Code? Can we say 200 projects (we are at 68, up 20% since last week)?

Overall, I am already happy Mark
Shuttleworth knows about AGPL. It means I made enough noise ;-) Let me hope he goes for it now....

More famous Mark, I am working hard, as you can see...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

MySQL: hybrid is the way to go

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the debate about the best open source business model is still open. We are done with licenses, finally. However, the question on how we make (more) money, while keeping our open source soul clean, is still there. And it might not go away soon...

Latest debate: MySQL alleged idea of having non-open source components in its Enterprise Edition. Whooo, scary...

Marten and Zack might have made a marketing mistake: leaking the news out at the end of their conference, where they did not talk about it, was probably not done on purpose... In particular, just after the Sun acquisition, with all eyes focused on how opensourcey they still are.

Nevertheless, this move is clearly into the right direction. The only way to make significant money and keep open source alive and kicking: an hybrid model with open source and proprietary components. My model involves also a separation of the open source community from the buyers community ("do not upsell your community"), but it is a model hard to pull off for MySQL, since they sell only to the enterprise... Anyway, that's a need for them, or as Marten wrote: "we believe we have to be more pragmatic than dogmatic. Call it a necessary evil if you like"...

I know Matt disagrees with me on this, but he is wrong (hey, he was convinced Arsenal would win the Premier League this year... It tells you something about his ability to predict things he cares about :-))

I can't believe a pure model based on support is going to scale to the one billion dollars we always talk about. A pure support and services model works for a while, then customers get comfortable with what they have and pull the plug on it. Your best customers leave you because they are too satisfied... It is sad but inevitable. Maybe you can make it with an operating system, but if you move up the stack you are screwed...

Bottom line: Marten and Zack are going in the right direction. Stop screaming about it. They are as opensourcey as you and me. But they need to keep open source (and their business) alive and kicking.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Quick guide on myFUNAMBOL and Windows Mobile

I bumped into an article on "Tech Tips for Us" where they talked about how to set up myFUNAMBOL to work with a Windows Mobile phone (a WM Smartphone, in the example).

I thought it was very well written, so if you have a Windows Mobile phone, check it out ;-)

Milking the GNU: Google to users

I just received the link to the "Google to users: you're not the boss of me now!" post on Milking the GNU and I found it too hilarious to ignore. Enjoy it...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Apple and the missing Task

One feature that is incredibly missing in the iPhone is Tasks. Every person I know has a task list. Most of us think about a task while they are on the move and need to write it down, or they will forget it (hey, it can't be only me, despite me getting older by the hour...).

Kincy just forwarded me a call to the WWDC conference, the Apple developer conference coming up in June.

The image on the ad is the following:

Now, what this shows is the Notes application of the iPhone used to add a Task...

You can read this in two ways:
  1. The person who prepared the ad tried to find the Task application on the iPhone. Since it was not there, s/he decided to use Notes instead. Who cares about usability? This is Apple after all...
  2. Apple is desperately in need of a developer who will write a Task application for the iPhone. The ad is a teaser for developers: "we left Tasks out so you can show the world how smart you are, come and develop it"
Either way, it is a smart ad...

Funambol Community Showcase #3: Google Android plug-in

Initially, I planned to have a Funambol Showcase per month, but I do not seem to be able to keep up with the load... Anyway, here is showcase #3, which is a very cool client built by Carlo, a very smart Funambol community member.

Funambol Android Plug-in

By Carlo Codega


The Funambol Android Plug-in is an Android application which enables you to sync personal data between a Funambol server (such as myFunambol portal) and Google Android, an open source mobile phone platform, based on a Linux OS and developed by the OHA (Open Handset Alliance).
The main objective of this project is to bring sync features on this new mobile platform. This should be the first application that you have to install on your Android phone for begin using it.

The Android SDK

The Google Team provided an SDK that you can use to develop your own Android application. It includes development and debugging tools, a set of libraries, a device emulator, sample projects, documentation, and more.
Currently the Android emulator includes a simple contacts manager, no calendar managers or email clients are provided. It means that, at least for now, the plugin provides the contacts sync feature only.

Why develop a sync application for Android?

The idea of the Android project was born concurrently with the announcement of this new mobile phone platform. Android is open source, Funambol is open source too. What should be first thing to do? Porting the Funambol sync software to Android using a slightly modified version of the JavaME Funambol API.
I started to develop for Funambol as a community member, with the Mozilla plugin, which became the object of my first level degree.
As soon as I saw the release of the first SDK, I’ve downloaded it and started working on it for verifying the possibility of porting the Funambol software over the Android platform. Now, since last December, I’m part of this project, that is included into the Code Sniper Program.

Interesting issues

After the announcement of this project, several interesting issues were born, regarding the cooperation of Funambol with Android to transform the mobile market. Funambol made available a position paper entitled: “How Google Android Stimulates the Mass Market for Mobile Email and how Funambol Mobile Open Source Monetizes It".
Some issues against Android.
I don’t like its user interface so much (I prefer the iPhone one), and I don’t see a big participation of the developers, at least not what I expected.
It still lacks an efficient bug reporting tool, a unique discussion group I think is not enough.

Using the Android Plugin

Few steps are needed to get the plug-in running on the Android emulator:
- Download the Android SDK.
- Download the Funambol Android Plug-in from Google Code.
- Install the Funambol Android Plug-in: run the emulator and install the application using the adb tool (run “adb install \Funambol-Client-.apk”).

- Run the application: go to the applications folder (All) and run Funambol.

The first step that is necessary for using the plug-in is to configure the communication settings. To do this go to Menu>Settings and set your preferences: username, password and the server url.

Now you can start to synchronize.

Future plans

Improve the contacts sync in terms of efficiency and reliability. Calendar/tasks sync and push email features will be added as soon as a stable email client and calendar/tasks manager will be provided. The Google Android PIM Plug-in is a community project, as such it can be developed and/or improved by anyone who participates to the Funambol Open Source Community, so please join our community and start to develop with us.


The project homepage is Here you can download the application package and different source code snapshots. The plugin and API sources are available on the Funambol forge, you can get it via CVS.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

More feedback about Google and AGPL

Somehow, the discussion around Google and their stance against AGPL is generating quite a bit of discussions around the web. It is a juicy story, after all ;-)

The Register wrote an interesting article about how Google is starting to pay for banning AGPL. In particular, one of the very cool projects they have on Google Code - called Clipperz - has decided to abandon Google Code. Orangemesh (an open source dashboard server) is also in the process of moving.

The Register concluded:
Whatever its reasons, Google needs to get its house in order. ClipperZ is still listed on Google Code along with several other projects licensed under AGPL including Groups Wiki, shogiserver and the inactive Edozun7.
So, we are looking at a bunch of projects to be kicked out of Google Code. Not a problem for Google, they have tons of projects and they are happy to see them going.

Some disagree with Google, for example Bradley M. Kuhn who left this message on my blog:
I don't think Chris (DiBona) is being completely public about Google's full reasoning. The AGPL is a license that Google clearly dislikes for its own proprietary reasons — they have a vested corporate interest in impeding its popularity. I believe they are choosing not to allow AGPL'd code on their systems primarily for those reasons, and the “not popular enough” argument is a convenient excuse (now that they've lost their battle inside the OSI to block its approval).

It's disingenuous to compare licenses like the Nokia Public License to a license published by the FSF, which has a 25 year history of publishing licenses that do become popular over time, and also is opposed to license proliferation, and was so even back when OSI was in favor of proliferation. The FSF didn't write the AGPL just put its own stamp on a document which is otherwise nearly the same as other licenses (which is the common MO of license proliferation). AGPL is trying to address a completely new threat to the freedom of software users, and it happens to be a freedom that Google has a corporate interest in impeding.

The place where Chris and I agree wholeheartedly is that you shouldn't use to host your FLOSS project. I recommend a host that will let you see all the source code of your hosting software, and build upon it, and not get locked in. is no better than google in this regard; I'd suggest Gna! or Savannah.
Huuuh, nice close ;-) Is Google pissing off the community a bit too much?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

BlackBerry beating Twitter

On a more serious note, I found an interesting news today: RIM trying to stop Twitter from registering its trademark.

As you might now, I am a Twitter user. Micro-blogging sounds really stupid when you look at it, but it delivers interesting information. For example, when I land in a place and I tell people I am there, often my phone rings and I spend dinner with someone I know, rather than alone in a hotel room.

Then there is the use of Twitter to communicate with others. It is a form of Instant Messaging. But in a confuse way. And it has links to mobile (I use Twitter on my Windows Mobile or iPhone, depending what I am carrying at the time).

The fact that RIM sees Twitter as a competitor is a bit of a stretch to me. But I like the idea they are beating Twitter instead of retaliating against me :-)

Beating BlackBerry

I had the opportunity to physically beat BlackBerry at CTIA. It was the opportunity that presents itself once in a lifetime, I had to do it.

Rony also shot a video of it, available below.

I am not proud of what I have done.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

AGPL v3 to be added to Palamida Watch List

Palamida is tracking adoption of GPL v3 on a special blog. The last post mentioned an incredible rate of adoption for it. There are already more than 2,000 projects using the license (or a variation of it, like LGPL v3), with a good chance to reach 5,000 by the end of the year. I feel we are about to reach the tipping point, when everyone will move from GPL v2 to v3.

In parallel, Palamida has decided to track AGPL adoption. There are already 42 projects using it, even if it has just been approved by the OSI. And even if Google says they won't host any AGPL project on their site, because "there are plenty of other hosts out there that are happy to serve you"...

I am looking forward to tracking AGPL growth. It might initially be a niche, because only people developing software to run as a service will get it. But with SaaS getting traction, it is going to grow really fast down the road. I actually have a bet with Mark Radcliffe that in five years AGPL will overtake GPL.
Now we have a way to track it...

I know, I am going to lose the bet with Mark, but I just won the March Madness game in the office, so I am already up one... I can take it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Time to kill CTIA

I just came back from CTIA in Vegas, where Funambol was an exhibitor. I have been going to that show for years. I loved it when it was in New Orleans, then they moved it to Vegas (and I liked it a little less), then Orlando (and I liked it a lot less), then Vegas again.

This year, I reached the conclusion that it is time to kill the show. Look around: how many announcement have been made this week? I mean, significant ones?


Sprint launching an iPhone clone (yawn), Microsoft saying their browser will be the best in the market (yawn) and Nokia showing a tablet with Wi-Max (interesting, but a micro-niche, so yawn). Anything else? Nope. Nada. That's it...

What about attendance? Well, I found parking few steps from the main entrance. Beside the crowd at opening, lunch and around Starbucks, it was nearly dead. No signs of crowd in casinos as well. Many many booths and many many dollars invested, but not that much business. ROI very low.

The reason, in my opinion, is 3GSM-MWC in Barcelona. That show is sucking CTIA dry. Every announcement is there. Everybody goes there. Why going to CTIA a month later? No reason, unless you are European and want to gamble with your Euros...

Bottom line: it is time to kill CTIA. At least the spring show. I believe the September show has a lot of potential (we are missing a big wireless show in the second half of the year). If I were CTIA, I would put all my eggs in one basket and focus only on that show.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ok, that was funny...

Our creative marketing department came up with an interesting idea today. Unfortunately, it was just an April Fools' joke...