Mobile 2.0: Panel Discussion on openness

Moderator: Matthaus Krzykowski, VentureBeat

David Wood, Symbian

Jacob Lehrbaum, Sun

Andreas Constantinou, VisionMobile

Pat Phelan, Cubic Telecom

Christian Sejersen, Mozilla

MK: What is openness to you at 8am on a Monday?
AC: There was a big splash around openness 2008/2007 when Android came along.
DW: It's a culture change, around getting trust from the community.
CS: Most communication takes place in the open - wiki, newsgroups and IRC.
PP: As a semi-MNO we've had to go in and build APIs. Carriers are quite closed in general.
JL: I came from a hardware background (where open was about systems), then into software (which had its own definition), then mobile, where open means "you can install an application on your phone".
AC: We have open application SDKs, communities. Android is open source, but can you influence its development. Governance models cover everything a source code license doesn't: can I influence the source code, who arbitrates between contributions, can I get nightly builds.
DW: Is Open just marketing? No, we're in the middle of a 2-year project to open the Symbian source - we wouldn't do this for marketing brownie points. There are companies that have done a good job with a tightly controlled stack, but over time we think that open standards win out. Look at Firefox, it's not downloaded because it's open source, but because it's a good product.


JL: There's a balance between giving people to ability to change anything they like, and keeping compatibility (particularly across devices).
PP: 50% openness is like being half pregnant

DW: Alongside any drive to openness is a drive to ensure the system isn't corrupted from within.

Q: I own mean. How do I get access to systems which have been closed for a long time?

DW: Symbian will open two new websites for participation from customers: not just developers, but gadget enthusiasts too, requesting features. And we want to lower the barrier for easier programming: Python, Flash.

Q: Isn't an open platform one that doesn't charge $1500 to get source access (Symbian)?

DW: It will be free ASAP, by June next year or maybe sooner. We can't open it up immediately because it currently contains entangled 3rd party software code.

Q: What do you think of operator-owned app stores? Are they not a walled garden?

JL: Many to date have been closed. If you're selling something you need to take responsibility for its quality - even if it's free. So there's a level of closedness you need as a vendor.

CS: There has to be a check in the app store for it to have credibility.

DW: OSS needs some help to avoid the problems Christian has highlighted - avoiding fragmentation.

Q: 10 years later we need to talk about openness and making money. Where have we gone wrong.

CS: We don't charge for products, we do rev share on search partnerships.

Q: How can open be safe?

AC: It's not about safety, it's about blame. Who pays the bill for fixing it? With Java, you ask the user to take on liability for installation by asking them regularly.

CS: Open source is one of the best vehicles for making secure products - it rules out security by obscurity.

Q: Who pays for the cost of policing the apps ecosystem?

JL: Carriers often feel responsible because they own the customer relationship. Anyone who the consumer feels they have a relationship with has to take on some of the responsibility.

PP: Apple have a competitive pricing model, and that includes the cost of their organisation to police it.