Efforts to understand, improve, or do less harm to the world around me.


Monday, November 29, 2010

The future is actually going to be Linux?

Although its become a joke, many optimists still say "this is the year of the Linux desktop" and this year may have seen their dreams come true in maybe a way they didn't expect.  I've been watching the Google OS for quite some time, but maybe more impressive is the predicted dominance of Android in the coming market.  Not only is it a commercially viable Linux product, but one that is expected to take over phones as well as tablets.

Watching Microsoft throw away around a billion dollars when the Kin project failed followed by producing their new web browser that doesn't run on the most popular operating system in the world makes me wonder where their priorities are.  It seems they're focused on a strategy more similar to Apple's than on the ubiquity of Windows operating system.  As mobile devices increasingly take the place of PCs and laptops, mobile devices will increasingly become the tools we rely on.

In terms of stability, Android's open internals based on a solid operating system pull it far in front of Palm and Blackberry (I have both, and both are very crashy).  Apple carries similar stability but its higher price, small hardware selection, and one-carrier-only selection puts them at a disadvantage.  The iPhone has had other problems including short battery life, poor phone reception, and other hardware issues.  Fundamentally the thing is a phone and not addressing this first and foremost is absurd.

So Android is a phone that doesn't shy away from hackers and tweakers?  An app store that doesn't have an until recently totally mysterious and indecipherable (and still not great) system for accepting submissions?

Negatively, the Android system has not made life easy for developers, the real heart of any "smart" device.  Using an open system with a wide variety of hardware without clear standards has created a fragmented OS base that has some of the same problems as the many distributions of Linux (SuSE, Redhat, Ubuntu, etc.)  Still, if Android can address this confusion, its going to be difficult to buy anything else.

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