Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Sep 2010 23:20 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless Well, this certainly isn't particularly surprising. The rising popularity of Android leaves more victims in its wake than just Windows Mobile. Sony Ericsson, one of the major manufacturers of Symbian phones (other than Nokia) has just announced it will pretty much abandon the platform to focus entirely on Android - leaving Nokia as the sole person cheering for team Symbian.
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jabbotts
Member since:
2007-09-06

I'm usually the one jumping in with the "Linux is a kernel" suggestion to focus on a the distribution level of a product. However, I read it like this:

Android is a java platform that happens to have a *nix back end which does a great deal to hid itself from the device owner. Unless your doing or vendor/sku/androidversion specific jailbreak dance, your only going to see applets running in a java sandbox. There is no central distribution image that can be flashed to any "Android" branded hardware; you have a distribution fragmented by vendor customizations and, in some cases, outright user hostile logic bombs (Thanks Motorola).

By contrast, osX reveals far more of the *nix stack than Android does. It shows what a *nix based workstation can do with Apple sized marketing budgets. It may not be a Linux kernel but many of the components on top of the BSD userland go directly into Linux based distributions; CUPS being an example. Hence, osX is more "Linux" (based distro like) than Android.

Granted, Apple also provides the other extreme of the spectrum in Ios where the device goes far beyond most Android devices to keep the device owner at the most superficial layer. I'm actually a little surprised Apple wasn't first to introduce the logic bomb; Apple has patents submitted, Motorola has it implemented in devices.

Then we have Symbian and Maemo/Meego which are both *nix based. I've not had hands on a Symbian device but in terms of Maemo; it's very clearly a Linux based distribution. There is no "we use 'Linux'" marketing spin for a distro fragmented by vendors and hostile towards the user. Want to root your device then just download rootsh from the repository; one distribution, one rooting method - from a vendor who encourages hacking about under the hood unlike Android and (more so) Iphone devices.

Let's look at apps.

Apple has the biggest library and I believe apps run on any Ios device. Your still only getting the most superficial layer for those running apps so we can disregard the the *nix back end and whatever kernel it happens to sit on.

Android tries to present only the most superficial layer. Average user boots a java interface and applets also forgoing any *nix back end below that. The app market is not as big as Apples but it's also not as compatible with a hodgepodge of apps that only install on certain devices. If I want to download Android Maps onto a device without a GPS receiver then I should be able to do that and just not have the GPS specific functions not function (for lack of input data). I should be able to download a rootsh app and gain full access to my device regardless of what vendor/hardware/androidversion. I should be able to connect to the App market and see "new version of Android available, do you want to upgrade now?" rather than waiting for a vendor corrupted ("customized") splinter claiming to be the core distribution.

By comparison, maemo presents the full distribution in app choices also. Ovi apps are QT so your looking at the same as Iphone and Android apps; snippets run in a very superficial sandbox interpreter. I can also install more native apps that wire directly into the userland and desktop environment. Going below the GUI makeup, I have a long list of cli apps added directly from the repository. "Terminal" is not a dirty word the device owner needs to be protected from. Third party app; Nokia simply presents a message saying that they are not responsible for the app. The repositories themselves are managed more like a Debian repository than either Android or Iphone. I have vendor premoted access to the entire software stack; I can replace the bleeding kernel if I so choose.

So, while I'd normally be right there replying "it's the distro not the kernel", the post above did have a solid point in it. Android and Ios are based on *nix back ends but they're are other platforms far closer to a proper *nix distribution. osX is closer to a Linux distro than Android is because it voluntarily presents much more of the *nix stack to the device owner. Maemo Linux is a full blown distribution that so far has had well maintained repositories; it only lags behind Android os Ios in repository package counts (possibly).

I was going to say something about comparing a phone software platform to a desktop since the desktop favors user access but Maemo kind of negates that by providing a mobile device distro which favors user access.

In the end, if all you want to do is live off the app store/market provided packages then either device platform will work for you. If your going to talk about going beyond that; there are far better platforms to consider.

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