Friday, September 21, 2007

Mobile Linux fragmentation

InfoWorld has an article this morning about the fragmentation of efforts among all the various groups who want to standardize Linux for mobile phones. This was an area that I was actively researching in August before teaching responsibilities forced me to put it on the back burner.

Reporter Nancy Gohring tried to understand why there are so many different overlapping efforts, and came up with a lot of good quotes that suggest that such fragmentation is systemic and persistent. This reminds me very much of the Unix wars, in which various participants admitted that they were arguing over turf and control more than the petty technical details — and admitted that they ended the wars too late, after Windows had already taken over the low end workstation market.

About the only thing missing from the story is the suggestion that division is actually desired because each operator and phone maker wants something that’s different. Given such differences don’t create differentiation, why do they persist? Perhaps the hope is that they create switching costs and thus reduce commoditization.

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