Open Source Won the Mobile Platform Wars, Industry Executive Claims

At the Open Source Business Conference 2012, the president of mobile data synchronization software company Funambol explained how open-source software, such as Google Android, came to dominate the mobile space.

SAN FRANCISCO - Open source has become the dominant choice for mobile device operating systems because it's the best way to bring innovation to this growing market and because wide community support delivers the highest quality software, said the president of Funambol, an open-source mobile software company.

"On mobile, we won. There's just no other way to put it," said Fabrizio Capobianco, president and co-founder of Funambol at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) 2012 here. Funambol is a provider of open-source software to sync data from a variety of end-point devices running any number of operating systems.

The conference covered open-source developments in some of the fastest-growing markets in IT, namely big data, cloud computing and mobile. On May 21, Microsoft and SUSE jointly announced at the conference a product that integrates SUSE Manager and Microsoft's System Center to enable concurrent management of Linux and Windows server environments.

Increasingly, enterprises are investing in mobile technology because workers are demanding it so that they can stay connected with colleagues, customers and partners wherever they are.

Capobianco traced the history of open-source mobile technology over the last decade and cited recently released Gartner research that shows the Google Android OS captured 56.1 percent of the global smartphone market in the first quarter of 2012, up from 36.4 percent in the first quarter of 2011. It was followed by Apple's proprietary iOS platform with a 23 percent share, the open-source Symbian OS from Nokia at 8.6 percent and the proprietary BlackBerry OS from Research In Motion at 6.9 percent.

Android was the product of a startup in 2003 that was acquired by Google in 2005. Google released Android as open source in 2007, and the first Android-based smartphones went on sale in 2008.

"The reason why open source wins is the quality," Capobianco said. "Open source will apply to mobile better than in any market we have ever seen because mobile is complex and complexity is where open source thrives."