Monday, January 28, 2008

Why mobiles?

Hi all,
A follow-up to yesterday's post as to why mobiles of all things. In a perfect world, it should encompass all, music systems, stand-alone CD/DVD players, laptops, desktops. Having free software should make all of these products much much cheaper to buy & produce.
In fact a cousin of mine works in a Bangalore software company which work with Open standards & make codecs for clients so they can play a wide variety of video & most of the time they use free software.
But mobiles take the cake as they're used more often, more ruthlessly & people expect the mobile to just do its job. If we could harness the power of free software then there would be so much stuff that could be done.
For e.g. look at the freemap service. From what I make of it, it hopes to add free content as in landmarks & stuff of Mumbai & then with a GPRS handset one should be able to find interesting stuff around the city. Questions like where I can find pizza around here or something like that should be answerable. The content hopefully would be gratis as well as free (as in freedom). These kind of services would work the best with appliances that support GNU/Linux . Of course they would try to make sure its also possible to use the services on other platforms but would be best with free software. This is just one example, there are hundreds of these applications & content which would get a good boost as we have free software on mobile & later the chip itself.
The whole idea behind free software is to do away with patenting stuff which blocks innovation (as in putting something on top of somebody else's work) and also doesn't do anything about sharing. If there were not patents then the mobiles would still go cheaper. One look at reports like this one makes it easy to understand as to why the mobiles are still so costly. I'm sure the license fees make for a significant amount of cost.
There are many many more use-cases why we need open hardware but that would do for now.

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