A developer’s perspective on Google’s Android SDK

very nice article. A developer’s perspective on Google’s Android SDK

Open Mobile ecosystems: The disruptive potential of open systems and open source in the mobile environment

I am happy to announce a new book from futuretext: Open Mobile ecosystems: The disruptive potential of open systems and open source in the mobile environment

With Android, OpenSocial and other developments, I believe that open systems will dominate Mobile applications development. With a blog called OpenGardens – these developments were clearly of interest to me. Thus, when the opportunity arose to write a book with Anna Gatti and Mauro Del Rio (Founder and Chairman of Buongiorno) about this new mobile industry paradigm – it was an offer I could not refuse.

The book had a curious history ..

It all stated when I spoke at Stanford last year and I met Dr Adam Tolnay – who has since remained a great friend.

Adam introduced me to Anna and Mauro – who both wanted to write a ‘truly visionary and radical book about the Mobile data industry’. We met in the lobby of the Fairmont in San Francisco earlier this year – and since then we have swapped ideas about this book.

This will be a strategic, visionary book focussed on the impact of Open systems on mobile devices – a new paradigm in mobile industry. It will cover the principles – for instance – Open systems, Open Gardens, Open source and Net neutrality followed by a discussion of it’s impact on the industry and a vision for the future.

Apart from me, the two other authors will be Anna Gatti and Mauro Del Rio. The book will also be incorporating strategic insights from Dr Andreas Constantinou Director of visionmobile .

I am pleased to have Andreas on board .. Andreas recently wrote Informa’s report on Open Source in Mobile and we have both been blogging about Open systems and Android. I feel privileged to work with such great group of people in Anna, Mauro and Andreas.

Watch this space. Book due in March 2008

Ajit Jaokar – futuretext

Ajit Jaokar believes in a pragmatic but open Mobile Data industry – a vision which he fosters through his blog OpenGardens. The OpenGardensBlog was recently rated a top 20 wireless blog worldwide by readers of Fierce wireless. The OpenGardens blog is also syndicated on the W3C’s Mobile Web Initiative/ Planet Mobile.

Ajit’s recent talks have included Keynote at O Reilly Web20 expo(April 2007), 3GSM – talk on Mobile Web 2.0, Keynote at Java One , European parliament – Brussels – (Electronic Internet Foundation), Stanford University’s Digital visions program , MIT Sloan and others

Media appearances include BBC – Newsnight, CNN money, The BBC digital planet , The Scoble show

Ajit moderates Oxford University’s Next generation mobile applications panel and also conducts a course on Web 2.0 and User generated content at Oxford University

He is currently doing a PhD on Identity and Reputation systems at UCL in London and his last book was Mobile Web 2.0

Anna Gatti

Anna Gatti is currently working at Google in Mountain View, California. Before joining Online Sales and Operations at Google, Anna was partner of myQube, the venture capital arm of Telecom Italia, focusing on innovation in fixed and mobile telecommunications. Previously, she was Senior Economist and Advisor at the World Health Organization where she led several international projects. From 1997 to 2001 she served as researcher and faculty at University

of California Berkeley (Berkeley, CA, USA), Stanford University (Stanford, CA, USA), Bocconi University (Milan, Italy), and the Business School Fundacao Getulio Vargas (San Paolo, Brazil). Anna Gatti is editor and author of several publications in organizational theory, innovation and knowledge transfer, and she has been invited to present papers to many conferences and seminars worldwide. She holds a degree in Business Administration and a Ph.D in Business Administration and Management from Bocconi University (Milan, Italy),

a post-doc in organizational behavior from Stanford University.

Mauro Del Rio is Founder and Chairman of Buongiorno

Mauro Del Rio is Founder and Chairman of Buongiorno S.p.A. Prior to founding Buongiorno in 1999, he had been Senior Strategy Manager at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), specialising in consultancy for the most important financial institutions and Italian wireline and wireless telecommunication companies. Before joining Accenture, Mr Del Rio worked at Ote Telecomunicazioni – the Italian branch of Marconi Group – specialising in the research and development of the first experimentation of standard technology GSM in 1989. Mauro Del Rio began his professional career as a researcher in Cefriel/Politecnico University, where he gained a Master’s Degree in IT in 1988.

Andreas Constantinou, Ph.D. | Research Director

Andreas Constantinou is Research Director at VisionMobile, a strategic market intelligence firm specialising in uncovering under-the-radar mobile markets. Andreas has eight years experience in research, development and strategy in wireless. He specialises in mobile handsets, mobile software market, device management, operator strategy and open source. Andreas has worked on several product and marketing strategy projects for clients including France Telecom, T-Mobile, OMTP, Red Bend, Abaxia, Scalado and Trolltech, and authored numerous research reports for analyst firms Informa, Ovum and ARCchart. He specialises in providing intelligence on the mobile vendor landscape, analysing market dynamics and identifying mobile industry trends. When not hoping on planes, Andreas spends his time between Athens and London.

Andreas is invited regularly at international telecoms conferences as a speaker and chairman. He serves at the board of advisors at The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), a Swedish UI technology company. He is also a monthly columnist for two telecoms print magazines, ‘InfoCom’ and ‘Mobile Telephony’. Andreas holds a Ph.D. in Image & Video Compression from the University of Bristol, UK.

Benazir Bhutto killed


A sad day for democracy and freedom when the rule of the gun / bomb prevails

Benazir Bhutto killed

Open source vs. Open Standards – complementing or competing?

I have been thinking of this idea for some time especially after the launch of Android/OHA – and a recent email from Curro Dominguez of Vodafone Betavine R and D who attended my IMS course at Oxford university prompted this blog.

I seek thoughts on this – and admittedly I may not have got everything right here. Note also that this article/blog is specific to the mobile domain – however similar principles may apply to the Web as well.

So .. Here we go ..

Interoperability and standards

In any consumer based service, we need interoperable standards for the market to blossom

There are three ways to do enable interoperability – the first is by a monopoly i.e.. A single standard controlled by one company. The second is via open standards and standardization bodies and the third(which I find most interesting) is via open source

The open standards process is now well known. For instance, W3C is a standardization body and its process is outlined HERE

As with any standardization body, it comprises submissions, committees, consensus, working groups, draft proposals – so on and so forth.

The result is – all standards from any standardization body have three problems:

a) They are slow i.e. they take a long time to materialise

b) They are ‘standard’ i.e. they leave little room for differentiation

c) Even when there is some effort towards standardization/consensus, there is no guarantee that the market will not fragment(such as in the case of J2ME)

Besides this, there are other problems – for instance -

a) Some companies actually thrive on fragmentation(transcoding companies/testing companies etc) and on the flip side – there are business models built around standardization by standardization entities themselves (for example testing, compliance mark, certification, training etc)

b) IPR management is also an issue

c) Finally, many companies support standards retrospectively. This means they are ‘compliant’ but only later when it makes little difference anyway.

The result is a slow, imperfect process, which does not always work. However, the options are much worse .. Essentially a commercial monopoly

Open source

Can Open source offer a third way forward?

It appears to be a road which companies are increasingly taking – especially with Android/OHA.

Firstly, for the sake of this discussion, let us differentiate between Open standards, Open systems and Open source

We have already discussed Open standards above – i.e. standards which are consensus driven and created by a consortium of companies with some form of community/committee process

Open systems is a term where users are not restricted by any commercial or technological means i.e. no walled gardens. The meaning of ‘open’ in this case is dependent on context. Recently, facebook opened up it’s APIs to third parties. In that sense, facebook is ‘open’. However, within facebook itself, you cannot contact any user without an introduction(unlike in MySpace). So, in that case, facebook is ‘closed’. Hence the meaning that : open = users should not be restricted by any commercial or technological means – is generally valid

Which brings us to ‘Open source’. For once, the Wikipedia article on Open source is not very clear. Hence, I am using a very simple, concise viewpoint to explain this, rather emotive for some people, term

Open source software is managed and promoted through an organization called Open Source Initiative -which maintains an OSI definition and endorses a set of Open source licenses which comply with the OSI definition.

All this is simple enough. However, the term ‘Open source’ was created to distinguish from another term called ‘Free software’ coined by the free software foundation. .

The principal philosophical difference between the free software foundation and the open source movement lies in ‘what to do with derived works’ also called Copyleft . The free software foundation believes that derived works should also be covered by the same terms as the licence(copyleft). In other words, if you modify software under the FSF licence, then the derived work must also be released back into the community.

In contrast, depending on which license you adopt from the open source foundation, derived works need not be released back to the community(there is a secondary question of what constitutes a derived work – but we will leave that aside for the moment). Specifically, the Apache licence v 2.0 covered under Opensource is not copyleft. In other words, any derivatives need not be released back into the community (thereby preserving IP rights of the person modifying it).

There are philosophical debates about this (and one can argue that the copyleft principle is more viral – see wikipedia link on copyleft above)– but the counter argument is that – companies will want to preserve their modifications for commercial reasons and there will be no commercial incentives for people if you force them to also release any derived works.

Of course, none of the open source (and for that matter the free software) licenses mandate ‘commercially free’ i.e. you are free to charge people (or not) for the software and derivatives.

Open source and Interoperability

Open source conjures up images of pony tailed geeks writing Linux code .. but there is another class of contributors enabling the rise of open source.


Why would companies want to contribute code under open source?

To facilitate interoperability and to grow the market.

In addition, unlike standardization which is top down, complex and committee driven : Open source initiatives are grassroots, simple and needs based since they are often solutions to specific problems. This makes the whole process simple and quick with unviable initiatives cut down at the source.

The biggest proponent of Open source in recent times is Google – with Android. The Android user space software is released under Apache version 2.0.This provides a commercial incentive for companies to develop modifications in the application space. See this fantastic post on why Google chose the apache license over GPL v2 for a detailed discussion on this topic.

Of course we have to reiterate that open source is not always better than standardization and ultimately I expect that the two will coexist. But certainly, it is a space to watch.

Others have spotted the same trend.

For instance,

Readwerite web correctly (in my view) identifies open source as the most promising trend of 2008 but wrongly(again in my view) mixes the three terms Open source, Open systems and open standards(for example the Opera lawsuit is not about Open source – it is about open standards since Opera itself is not open source as I understand it)

Vodafone betavine

Finally, we come to the email from Curro Dominguez of Vodafone who works with Vodafone betavine

I have blogged about betavine before and people like Dan Appelquist and Stephen Wolak who work with it are very clued on guys – so I am watching betavine with interest

Hence, I was interested when Curro told me about MobileScript which is an ECMA script that allows developers to access device functionality (calls, messages) in a simple manner.

It’s also one of the first projects to be released as Open Source (GPL v2)

See this YouTube video

As Vodafone are doing (correctly in my view), I see this to be an increasing trend – and it will be beneficial since companies will address specific problems, they will court developers, Android/OHA will provide legitimacy to the whole area and we will balance the objectives of fast development cycles, interoperability and with no monopolies

Also, I wish to acknowledge the thinking from Andreas of visionmobile which I have used to clarify some of my own questions in understanding Open source.

Any comments welcome

Related blogs coming soon:

The Blu Ray debate about openness

The iPhone debate about openness

Merry Christmas ..

Wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Image source: rbytes.net

On device portals – SurfKitchen

Following my blog On device portals – ODP, Widgets and the Phonetop: The iPhone killer, Saviour of IMS and the future of mobile apps?, I had intended to explore the area of On device portals(ODPs) further – especially in the context of Widgets and IMS integration.

Hence, I met SurfKitchen CTO Dave Evans a couple of weeks ago to get his views on ODPs, Widgets and IMS.

The SurfKit Product Portfolio is a product suite of clients that provides mobile operators and service providers with a method to find, download and consume mobile data services. The Surfkitchen product is a service creation environment. It is an On Device Framework that integrates and calls other services. It has evolved from its initial concept into its current incarnation over the past few years.

The next generation of SurfKitchen technology allows application on the framework to act as a widget. The widgets could be developed by third parties. Which widgets run on the device depends on the subscriber selection and operators’ policy. In that sense, it could be a walled garden or not depending on what the operator chooses.

If the operator’s network supports IMS, The ODP would utilise the IMS as a service layer (For instance – Location service layer provide by IMS). It could also use IMS to perform tasks across all applications allowing IMS capabile widgets to be built using XML and Script . Hence, SurfKitchen’s current positioning around IMS is – the SurfKitchen platform will only support IMS when operators implement IMS & the Protocol stacks become available in the devices.

The SurfKitchen platform is technology agnostic and supports Java, Symbian and Microsoft Windows 5.0 and it can be acquired using a range of methods that include Client native, Device Pre-Installation, Point of distribution, Memory Card, Bluetooth OTA, Infra-red OTA and OTA delivery

I was interested in ODPs because IMS clients are still not very prevalent and I don’t see them on roadmaps either from major handset manufacturers. Hence, an ODP could potentially perform some of the functions of an IMS client.

Are IMS clients useful? The answer to that question(as with everything in IMS) is ‘It depends’. Certainly as the network upgrades to an IP network, there is some value in the client being able to access the power on the server(i.e. the network). However, I have never believed in the hype driven, sweeping vision of IMS(especially when it extends to differential charging, bearer management etc). Hence, this approach may be a simpler way to take advantage of some features of IMS.

I shall continue to speak to more vendors to gain more insights into ODPs. Many thanks to Dave and his team for their feedback

A block diagram looks like this


ecomm 2008 conference

The ecomm conference to be held in March is an interesting place considering people who I know like Lee S Dryburgh, Martin Geddes and Dean Bubley are speaking at it. More details as per their web site and the schedule is HERE

Please contact the conference for an early bird discount

Some more details as below

Democratization of Communications Innovation

eComm is the venue for those interested in the radical transformation of the trillion dollar telecommunications industry. It has already started down the path that the homebrew computer took three decades ago. Just as democratized computation gave birth to the computer industry, eComm is tracking, highlighting and promoting this new wave of democratization.

eComm brings out the visionaries, emergent technologies, real-world startups, cutting-edge academic projects, views from the incumbent telecom players; garage based hacks and stirs required policy debates to create the ultimate three-day conversation.

Voice Industry Stagnancy

Telcos still see themselves as masters of communications innovation and the guardians to the creation of new services. Yet 3G, FMC, IPTV, NGN and IMS services are failing in the market place. At the same time consumer attention drifts increasingly towards Internet based service offerings such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, SecondLife, World of Warcraft Etc. which are becoming increasingly voice enabled.

Yet within the Internet realms VoIP is still heralded as the communication revolution. But VoIP on it’s own is nothing more than digital telephony and it will never be profitable. It has gained little consumer traction and can be announced as dead-on-arrival. SIP the VoIP signaling protocol even after a decade of development has had little consumer reach and the entire notion of a common signaling protocol is now under question.

Unprecedented Opportunities

eComm represents a way forwards out of this stagnancy. It is the meeting place for those interested in accelerating and profiting from the democratization of communications. It is for those who have woken up to the industry realities and who wish to race-ahead of the slumber.

A new communications landscape is ahead and the democratization of communications may hold greater opportunities than the democratization of computation which occurred three decades back. It is for this reason that eComm seeks to track, highlight and promote both the people and the technologies driving the democratization of communications innovation.

Emerging Communication Markets

Outside of advanced markets, eComm will also provide unique insight into the emerging communication markets, most notably the Chinese market.


We have a fantastic speakers list: http://eCommMedia.com/speakers/ which is a space worth watching (we can’t say anymore yet, but note the venue location for a clue).

500USD Discount

There are only 300 paid places available.

The early bird price is 300.00 USD off until January.

A special discount code has been setup for the first fifty registrants. Simply enter the code ‘firstfifty’ during online registration to receive a further 200USD off. Please distribute and let your colleagues know.


The conference will take place 12-14 March, 2008 at the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California.

Learn More

Checkout the conference homepage and the About page.

If You Can’t Attend

If you are unable to make the event, feel free to stay connected by:

* providing suggestions by emailing [email protected]

* subscribing to the blog which will appear next week onsite

* subscribing to pre-conference interviews which will appear onsite in January

* editing the Wiki

* joining the Facebook group

Also feel free to share your thoughts or questions by hitting reply.


To register or learn more please visit http://eCommMedia.com

Excellent SDP/IMS white paper from Devoteam

Occasionally, you come across a white paper which is so good that you wonder if it was intended to be in the public domain in the first place!

I have been interested in the interplay between Web 2.0, IMS and SDP – not easy topics to tackle especially since these terms mean different things to different people and are at different levels of the stack. Further more, IMS and SDP are largely hyped by the vendor community complicating matters even more.

I spoke about these ideas at my course at Oxford University on Web 2.0, Mobile Web 2.0 and IMS.

Hence, I was very interested to read this white paper (it’s a pdf) by devoteam in France. This is very good stuff .. And written with a vendor neutral perspective which is rare in this space. You may find parts of it technical but it still is great even if you are non technical

(BTW – I have no commercial relationships with this company – I just found this white paper useful)

link below to SDP white paper

Speaking at the Mobile world congress (formerly 3GSM) in Barcelona 2008

A brief note .. more soon

I am speaking at the Mobile world congress (formerly 3GSM) on exploring the Myths and Realities of the Youth Demographic. The session is part of the “Mobile Society” conference stream and will take place during the first day of the conference agenda; Tuesday the 12th February from 1615 – 1735.

If you are there, we can meet(although when I spoke at 3GSM last year, it was not easy to coordinate since I was staying at a faraway hotel.)

Hopefully I will do better this time!

Google’s next big dream – cloud computing ..

Interesting article in business week re cloud computing and the efforts of Christophe Bisciglia at Google to promote cloud computing at Campus levels. I have been tracking cloud computing for a while and believe that it will underpin efforts to take the Web to the next level – especially if a whole new class of web applications become mainstream(cloud search for instance). Hence, my belief expressed some time ago that cloud computing fits in nicely with Mobile Ajax

The article has a quote which says that Compared to this(cloud computing), the Web is tiny. We will be laughing how small the Web is. I think that’s not an understatement – since the cloud has the potential to unite the web , the mobile web and the social web as well (and everything else that comes subsequently – for instance access to devices) – if we view the cloud as a server which acts as a repository / server to all clients.

More about this initiative here Christophe Bisciglia, cloud computing, campus technology and HERE