Category: Open Source


Cufflinks designed to mimic the pulsating glow of a Mac “breathing” in sleep mode.

The iCufflinks are available here for $128.00.  The Open Source hardware design and source code available here.

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Symbian Closes Its Source Code

Nokia seemed to be making the right move when it opened the source code to the Symbian operating system, which runs on a large number of cell phones and handheld devices.  So when they announced that they were closing their code, the natural question was: Why?

Nokia never reaped the benefits that they wanted from their Open Source strategy.  Nokia was hoping that by opening up the code, other hardware manufacturers and the user community would do the heavy lifting of porting the software to new hardware.

But to get other people to contribute their work, you need an advantage for them as well. What can this advantage be? For Eclipse, most of the companies developing their own integrated development environment (IDE) found it economically sensible to drop their own work and contribute to Eclipse instead. It allowed them to quickly reduce their maintenance and development costs while increasing their quality as well. The Symbian foundation should have done the same thing, but apparently missed the mark, despite having a large number of partners and members. Why?

The reason is time and focus. The Eclipse foundation had, for quite some time, basically used only IBM resources to provide support and development. In a similar way, it took WebKit (which is not quite a foundation, but follows the same basic model) more than two years before it started receiving substantial contributions[.]

(Carlo Daffara)

Also compare Symbian’s Open Source history to that of Mozilla.  After Netscape launched the Mozilla foundation it took years of effort for the critical mass to arise.  Evidently, Nokia had no interest in putting in this same level of effort.

Additionally, Symbian had a disadvantage when compared to some of these other projects. Android is open, mobile, relatively easy to port to new hardware, and increasingly ubiquitous.  Large hardware manufacturers have dumped Symbian in favor of Android.  Google understood the importance of the Open Source community and embraced it.

Open Source Biology?  Stephen Friend is trying just that.  Friend is applying Open Source philosophy to the biological sciences in order to speed up pharmaceutical development.

Why would these corporations and universities participate?  How is it in their interests?

My thoughts: it’s about the time value of money.  By speeding up the process of drug development, even if the parties get smaller pieces of the pie, they still come out ahead.  One challenge would be to determine appropriate percentages for each group.

A second challenge would be how to ensure intellectual property protection.  There may be a patent law 102(b) bar with the disclosures coming so much earlier in the process.  Two quick potential solutions: 1) Keep the technology closed within the network (so there’s no public disclosure) and 2) File more patents and file earlier in the processes.   Or the parties could accept the disclosure of the earlier products if the final products are sufficiently valuable and more quickly developed.

(via Slashdot)

Recently, Facebook opened up its server design.

Both Google and Facebook as competitors in the same industry: advertising.

Strictly speaking, they don’t compete in the hardware arena.

Google’s actions indicate that it believes that its hardware designs give it an advantage in the processing and delivery of advertising.  Keeping these designs a trade secret is to its advantage.  (It is worth noting that they do share some details of its designs.)

In contrast, Facebook believes that using an Open Source philosophy for its hardware gives it an advantage.  Facebook will now be able to receive input from outside designers and take advantage of economies of scale as their designs are produced for more customers.

Jon Stoke’s analysis at Ars Technica is correct in that Facebook “doesn’t have to beat Google to win. Rather, the move will be a success if it only serves to shrink some of Google’s relative advantage. Anything that lets Facebook become more competitive by eliminating some of Google’s advantage in delivering ads cheaply will be a success.”

Ultimately Google and Facebook are both acting as rational profit-seekers, though they have chosen different strategies.

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