Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 14:54:24 -0400 (EDT)
From:"Linux Pipeline Newsletter" <>
Subject: [LXP] Linux Pipeline - 06-28-05 - Dialing For Dollars Linux Pipeline Newsletter | Dialing For Dollars | 06.28.2005
Linux Pipeline Newsletter
Tuesday, June 28, 2005

In This Issue:
  • Editor's Note: Dialing For Dollars
  • Top Linux News
        - Supreme Court Orders Trial In File-Sharing Case
        - Microsoft Expands Its Indemnity Program
        - Java's B-Day: Look Who's 'Opening' Gifts
        - More News...
  • Editor's Picks
        - Microsoft Aims To Lead Smartphone Market Within Three Years
        - Review: Three Free (And One Really Free!) E-Mail Apps
        - Analysis: Is Sun's Open-Source Strategy A Winning Mix?
        - More Picks...
  • Voting Booth: It's A-Live!
  • Get More Out Of Linux Pipeline
  • Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

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    Editor's Note: Dialing For Dollars

    About a month ago, I ran a feature on Linux Pipeline looking ahead to the Next Big Thing in the mobile industry: smartphones.

    I learned several important things from this article. First, and most unfortunately, I discovered that smartphones won't be able to launch swarms of killer 'droids that hunt down telemarketers and suck their brains out of their heads. Second, I learned that the smartphone market is wide open, growing faster than a head tumor, and likely to create enough wealth to make today's mobile moguls look like a bunch of dirt-poor hillbillies.

    Third, I learned that an awful lot of people -- including yours truly -- assume that when the dust settles, Linux will either dominate the smartphone market or at least claim a handsome share of the spoils.

    Over the past several weeks, the market proved Mobile Pipeline Editor David Haskin right: we've seen a constant flow of news on the topic, and all of it reflects the growing pains inherent in a fast-growing, viciously competitive new market. As a result, I've decided it's time to revisit some of my own assumptions on the subject -- and as part of that process, I intend to pick a few of your brains and perhaps challenge your own assumptions about the role Linux will play in the new mobile market.

    Here's my first and most important assumption: I don't think smartphones will succeed based on any revolutionary new features. We've gone through a staggering number of those already over the past decade, and frankly, I think even the most tech-savvy mobile gadget users are hitting their limits.

    Instead, the winners will have to pack the same stuff into much smaller, yet also easier to use packages -- no small feat, given a feature set that is often spread across three or four separate devices today. These devices will have to incorporate kernels capable of managing complex, high-bandwidth network operations, all without wasting scarce hardware resources.

    They'll also have to be as good as bulletproof: System software that emits gurgling noises and spits up teeny-tiny little Blue Screens of Death when you try to call Mom and surf the Web at the same time need not apply.

    The handset vendors will have a few other, not-so-modest demands to make. They'll expect software platforms that give them short development cycles, low production costs, a superb user interface model -- oh, and the ability to ape whatever the competition is doing, exactly five minutes after they do it.

    I'm missing a few things, but you get the point.

    Obviously, Linux isn't the perfect solution for this market. Instead of an innovative user interface, for example, all it can offer smartphone vendors is a good, hard beating with an ugly stick. What Linux lacks in UI pizazz, however, it makes up with its rock-solid technical chops and amazing adaptability -- both huge advantages in a market with tiny margins, appalling churn rates, and zero tolerance for time-to-market screw-ups.

    Yet Linux has another handicap to overcome if it hopes to win the smartphone wars: a distinct lack of here-and-now market share. To change this fact, Linux could try a frontal assault on the current market leader: Symbian. That's no easy task, considering that Symbian currently runs half of the world's handsets and that its biggest customers -- Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson -- are also its owners.

    This is where I end up making a leap of faith about the role Linux will play in tomorrow's mobile market. Even without taking on Symbian head-to-head, Linux can still build a solid base -- if today's press releases turn into tomorrow's production decisions.NTT DoCoMo, Japan's biggest wireless operator, has committed to using both Symbian and Linux -- but not Microsoft. And PalmSource is in the midst of an effort to rebuild the Palm OS interface layer on top of a customized Linux kernel it acquired along with its purchase of China MobileSoft last year. If both of these branches bear fruit, Linux will have a solid start in the smartphone market. Better yet, it will have a superb start in the Asian smartphone market -- the same market where I'm betting Microsoft is headed for disaster at the hands of open-source competitors and indifferent consumers.

    So there's my line of reasoning -- and many of you must have a similar train of thought, given the poll numbers I discuss below. Or do you? Is your faith that Linux will rule the smartphone market just a bunch of knee-jerk open-source chauvinism; a gut feeling that you can justify but not necessarily support; or the best way to interpret the facts as you see them?

    For that matter, am i seeing this picture clearly, or is it really time to get back on my meds before they take away my Plastic Spoon Privileges again?

    Talk to me, folks. Or yell, or send smoke signals, or communicate in any way that floats your boat. The conventional wisdom says that Linux is going to own this market, and whenever the conventional wisdom gets behind an idea, I start to get nervous.

    Drop me a line, and I'll drop one back -- I promise.

    Stupid User Tricks
    Here we are at the end of June, and at the end of our month-long Great-Tech-Call-'Em-Like-You-See-'Em Contest. And while I'm happy that very soon I won't ever have to write that phrase again, I'm also happy to say that we've gotten some amazing contributions from readers. Your stories -- on favorite software, hardware, future tech trends, or this week's topic -- are grist for our prize mill, and very soon some of you will get some very cool rewards for your contributions including those iPods.

    You've got one more chance to enter with this week's contest: Stupid User Tricks. If you've got a tech support story to tell, here's your chance to score a prize in the process. It needs to be true -- no urban myths, please -- but besides that, what you do is up to you.

    Until next time!

    Matt McKenzie
    Editor, Linux Pipeline

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    Top Linux News

    Supreme Court Orders Trial In File-Sharing Case
    The high court has ordered MGM's copyright-infringement lawsuit against Grokster back to a lower court for trial, ruling that file-sharing services such as Grokster are not automatically immune from liability for users' actions.

    Microsoft Expands Its Indemnity Program
    As lawsuits continue to blight the IT landscape, Redmond is sending a clear message to potential plaintiffs: Mess with our customers or partners, and you mess with us.

    Java's B-Day: Look Who's 'Opening' Gifts
    Sun Microsystems will celebrate Java's 10th birthday, as well as its Java Platform Enterprise Edition 5 release, with a pair of important new open-source announcements -- including its forthcoming, next-generation app server.

    FTC Report Mulls Pros, Cons Of Peer-To-Peer
    According to the Federal Trade Commission report, peer-to-peer technology delivers significant benefits, including faster and more efficient use of bandwidth. But the report doesn't state whether the benefits outweigh risks, such as greater exposure to spyware and viruses.

    Artesyn, Wind River Partner On Carrier-Grade Linux Servers, Support
    The two firms announce a joint effort to develop a Linux-based version of Wind River's networking component platform, designed especially for Artesyn's AdvancedTCA telecom blade servers.

    New EBay Tools Target Open-Source Developers
    EBay has launched a new program that provides source code, developer resources, and low-cost access to its Web services platform -- part of a drive to give the auction giant a higher profile among open-source developers.

    Open-Source Content Management Startup In Experienced Hands
    Thanks to an open-source startup with some high-powered industry veterans at the helm, smaller firms are about to discover an unfamiliar concept: affordable, high-quality content management systems.

    JBoss Looks To Partner With Government Integrators
    Recognizing the big potential of open-source technology in the public sector, JBoss wants integrators to assist the company's drive into the government market, working with federal agencies that adopt its open-source middleware system.

    Spoofing Exploit Affects IE, Firefox Browsers
    Internet Explorer and Firefox are both susceptible to a site-spoofing attack that could, in theory, allow hackers to steal passwords or other sensitive data from careless or inexperienced Web users, a security firm reports.

    New Tool Rolls Open-Source Pieces Into IT Management Solution
    GroundWork looks to make its systems-management tool easier to use and more competitive with big-ticket commercial IT-monitoring software.

    Editor's Picks

    Microsoft Aims To Lead Smartphone Market Within Three Years
    The chief of Microsoft's mobile and embedded division is promising something that seems counterintuitive: a complex suite of features in a smart phone that's cheap and easy to use and in so doing take the lead in the smartphone market within three years.

    Review: Three Free (And One Really Free!) E-Mail Apps
    Can Mozilla's Thunderbird hold its own against Outlook Express and Eudora? We'll see how our open-souce upstart fares against two of the world's most popular free email clients.

    Analysis: Is Sun's Open-Source Strategy A Winning Mix?
    Sun is turning to open-source software to gain a competitive edge in a changing market. But some observers say Sun's proprietary grip on its best-known technology -- the Java programming language -- proves that the company is still stuck in the past.

    Open-Source Business: Hardware Still A Big Part Of Sun's Strategy
    Sun Microsystems is hoping that its decisions to open-source Solaris and parts of its middleware stack will attract more software developers -- and ultimately more paying customers for its hardware and support services.

    Opinion: Supremes' Rulings Leave Geeks Singing The Blues
    A pair of Supreme Court rulings this week -- one condemning file-sharing technology, the other killing cable Internet competition -- deliver a vicious one-two punch to innovation and intellectual freedom.

    Contest #4: Helpless User Stories
    Here's your fourth and final chance to win an iPod or one of 36 other prizes in the Great Tech Call-'Em-Like-You-See-'Em Contest. Share your weird user tales to win!

    Executive Q&A: IBM's Linux Strategist Explains Gluecode Deal
    Adam Jollans, chief Linux strategist at the IBM Software Group, sits down with CRN Editor in Chief Michael Vizard to discuss Big Blue's app server strategy, Gluecode's role alongside WebSphere, and other open-source topics.

    Opinion: Telecoms' Answer To Free Muni Wi-Fi -- Whine, Lie, And Lobby
    Big telecom is willing to do whatever it takes to beat back free municipal Wi-Fi initiatives -- as long as "whatever" doesn't involve an open market and real competition.

    Voting Booth: It's A-Live!

    Cast Your Vote Now!

    This week, we're going with a sweet, simple, and very important question: Have you tried a Linux Live CD distro yet? Vote early, vote often (or try to vote often, we supposedly fixed that little problem).

    Poll Results: Last Week's Poll
    Maybe this is just Linux cheerleading, or maybe -- and this is what I'd like to believe -- you folks are working on some good information about the shape of things to come in the smartphone market. In any case, Linux won the poll asking which system would rule the Next Big Thing in the mobile market, taking 52 percent of the more than 300 votes cast. Microsoft took second place, with 15 percent, while Symbian limped along with just seven percent of the total vote. The same percentage of readers predicted that another, unnamed contender would take the smartphone market by storm (Java? ugh . . .). And 19 percent of you chose, perhaps most wisely of all, to believe that this market mayhem won't be any closer to working itself out five years from now.

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