Archive for May 12th, 2006

Linux phones bite Motorola back

Two weeks ago I sent my old phone to my little brother in Greece: the Linux-based Motorola E680i (with a QVGA touchscreen). The previous phone my brother used was a Symbian-based Nokia 3230 (Series60 2nd Edition). He got used to easily find native Symbian applications and install them, in addition to the “ugly java ones” (as he said). Now, bear in mind that my bro is not a super techie (he works as an electrician), but he knows his way around things and he learns real fast (faster than I do).

So, after the initial “wow” factor he got into this week after receiving the phone and showing off to his friends (the touchscreen effect, you see), he called me today and said: “hey, I’ve searched the internet, I just can’t find any Linux applications that run on this phone. And it seems there is no compatibility with… Palm applications either“.

What do you respond to this? Obviously, Motorola’s decision to not offer the EZX SDK to developers was the wrong one. Many have said that, and I have blogged about it in the past too. But when this comes from the mouth of a non-techie –a normal consumer– who is stunned by this situation, it has an even bigger significance.

I believe that the problem lies in the Motorola manager of the Linux division. The guy who heads that division is a Java person through and through, and he has even written books about java. I won’t directly point my finger to him and won’t mention his name, but people in the know, will know who that guy is. In my opinion, this guy needs to either work for Motorola’s interest, or resign. His “java-only” agenda is pathetic and it hurts Motorola in the long run, as their current Linux phones have no way to compete against the 30,000 Palm, 20,000 Windows Mobile and 2,000 Symbian native applications. People who buy touchscreen phones expect a sort of PDA environment that can be further enriched with native apps. But this is not the case with Motorola’s phones (a 2004-dated SDK that was leaked out, is very old and does not produce binary compatible apps with the newer firmwares).

FreeBSD vows to compete with desktop Linux

Aren’t they too late? This work should have started 2 years ago, when the HAL and DBus work was blooming. Right now, they simply try to catch up after a long time of doing nothing substantial for their desktop experience. I am afraid that Linux has passed this point where HAL/DBus were new, now Linux has Avahi, NetworkManager, a better ALSA, inotify, bluetooth front-ends, a mulitmedia framework (v4l2), webcam support etc. FreeBSD has a long way to achieve parity with Linux, let alone surpass it. They’re simply, late.