Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The last post

Yesterday, I was invited to give a talk at OSBC 2012, called "The Future of Mobile Open Source". The Open Source Business Conference has been the gathering for those involved in open source, and trying to make a living out of it. I have been there many times. Initially, it was a lot of fun, with all the startups innovating on the business model. Lately, well, things have matured a bit ;-)

Being forced to talk about the future of Mobile Open Source, I had to look back at what happened over the years I have been in this market. I realized it has been a phenomenal ride. From 2001, when Stefano started working on Sync4j (exactly when Luca Passani started working on WURFL, strange Italian connection...), to 2003 when we formed Funambol, to 2007 when the iPhone came out and Android went open source, to today.

Going back in time and assessing where we have come, made me realize one thing. The future of Mobile Open Source is actually today.

Look at this chart:

I do not know what else to say... It is a Pacman. Open source dominates in mobile, and I am ready to bet that it is just going to get better. The PC world will have an equivalent in the mobile world. Only reversed, where open source has more than 80% of market share.

Can you believe it? Open source dominates in mobile. Wow.

Look at this other one:

Chrome uses Webkit. Safari uses Webkit. Firefox is open source. If you consider that the growth is going to come from iOS (Webkit) and Android (Webkit), it is quick to conclude we are going to see another Pacman. Once again, with open source winning. Wow.

What is the only critique you hear about the mobile open source model today? I bet it is (drum roll...): FRAGMENTATION!!

I know, there are almost 4,000 Android devices out there, listed below.

That translates in a multitude of companies working on it. Fragmentation? Well, you can call it as you want. I call it open source being adopted by a bazillion of companies...

Now, how bad is this fragmentation, which can kill open source in mobile? Not too bad, actually. If you look at the current status of Android in the market, you see that over 90% of Android out there have Android 2.x... Fragmented? A bit. Devastating, I do not think so. You might not have checked the variations of JavaME or Symbian ;-) This is easy.

Lastly, let me quote Sean Moss-Pultz of OpenMoko fame: FRAGMENTATION IS INNOVATION.

Dont' you believe me? Consider for a second the Kindle Fire. It is a total fork of Android, made possible only because of open source. It took over 50% of market share in the Android tablet market, in a matter of months. Amazon is innovating on Android, faster than Google. The result will be some code from Amazon to come back to Android, making it even better and even faster in the market.

You call it fragmentation, I call it a better way to innovate.

After reviewing the state of Mobile Open Source, I concluded that the future is going to be just more of the present. More domination. We won, nobody is going to take it away from us.

What do you do when you are on top, you won and you realize the future is going to be like the present?

You quit :-)

Always better to leave where you are on top of your game.

Therefore, I have decided to close this blog. I opened it six years ago, because of a bet with Matt on Juve vs. Arsenal (he won). I am sure I would win that bet today, and it is just appropriate that I close this blog because Matt asked me to talk about the future. If you are interested, the slides of the talk are on Prezi and the presentation + audio is below.

That said, I am not disappearing. I am convinced I know what the next major disruption in our world will be, and I plan to share it with you as soon as I am ready. Stay tuned and thanks for watching!