Wed, Mar 11, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Open ecosystems coming: MIC

MOBILE TREND An MIC analyst said that while leading mobile vendors like Apple still have closed platforms, other big players are following Google’s open example

By Elizabeth Tchii  /  STAFF REPORTER

The future of mobile technology will be driven by software rather than hardware, the Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC, 產業情報研究所) said at a media briefing yesterday, as evidenced by the focus on open ecosystems at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona last month.

Google Inc, Apple Inc and Nokia Oyj have all jumped on the open source bandwagon but to different degrees, said Joyce Chen (陳釧瑤), a mobile communications analyst at MIC.

For instance, Google’s Android operating system (OS) has an open platform and open source code, while Nokia’s Symbian OS has an open platform, with plans to follow Google’s footsteps and open up its source code next year.

“Contrary to popular belief, the Apple iPhone’s OS and BlackBerry’s OS both have closed platforms and closed source codes, which means developers need approval from the companies to obtain SDK codes to write software,” Chen said.

“Mobile platforms are like brick-and-mortar stores, and Apple and BlackBerry shops are simply not there for anyone to come and mess around,” Chen said.

Microsoft Corp remains the oddest of the open-concept participants, Chen said, as it opens up its platform by taking licensing fees but it isn’t really open to engineers writing softwares on its system.

As readers wonder what the benefit there is for geeks to write application softwares, Chen said the typical profit breakdown for each application or service download is typically 70 percent for the developer and 30 percent for the platform provider.

But Google has again broken the rules. Chien Lee-feng (簡立峰), general manager of Google Taiwan, told Taipei Times last Friday that all profits go to the developers, while Android only takes a minor listing fee.

The latest MIC figures showed that the Apple store had more than 15,000 software applications. However, recent reports also showed that Apple’s iTunes Store was being increasingly challenged by unauthorized alternative online markets for iPhone applications.

Chen added that the Android market currently has more than 1,000 applications.

“But then again, Google’s revolutionary approach of truly embracing an open source network and making it free will rapidly­ develop a wide ecosystem and allow fast adoption on smartphones and netbooks worldwide,” he said.

At the MWC, international brands such as Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Ltd, Samsung Electronics Co, LG Electronics Inc, Motorola Inc all announced their intention to launch Android smartphones in the second half of this year.

MIC said some computer vendors had confirmed plans to produce Android-based netbooks.

As the global economic recession deepens, “the open ecosystem will certainly open up rich opportunities in mobile innovation infrastructure, application stores and services, as well as devices,” Chen said.

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