Bill Gates, in an interview for some venture capital firm’s event: You know, in the software world, in particular for platforms, these are winner-take-all markets. So, you know, the greatest mistake ever is the whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is, Android is the standard non-Apple phone form platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win. It really is winner take all. If you’re there with half as many apps or 90% as many apps, you’re on your way to complete doom. There’s room for exactly one non-Apple operating system, and what’s that worth? $400 billion that would be transferred from company G to company M . It really sucks that consumer technology platforms always seem to settle on only two platforms, with everything else relegated to the sidelines. Windows Phone, Sailfish, webOS, and others all had great ideas that just don’t get a fair chance in the market, and from both a consumer’s and an enthusiast’s perspective, that is such a shame.
China’s Huawei has applied to trademark its “Hongmeng” operating system (OS) in at least nine countries and Europe, data from a U.N. body shows, in a sign it may be deploying a back-up plan in key markets as U.S. sanctions threaten its business model. If you need to make your own operating system in the current market, you’ve already lost. Huawei is in a very deep hole.
One of the key points of this case is that “In numerous cases Qualcomm threatened with a disruption of chipset supplies unless OEMs accepted its patent licensing terms, and there were various agreements under which OEMs paid a higher patent royalty when using third-party modem chips than Qualcomm’s products.” The judge found that “Qualcomm’s licensing practices have strangled competition in the CDMA and premium LTE modem chip markets for years, and harmed rivals, OEMs, and end consumers in the process.” As a remedy, Qualcomm is ordered to take several steps which will reduce the amount of power it holds over its customers and will need to renegotiate new license terms without the threats that had accompanied previous negotiations.
Last month, Verizon and AT&T made official something you’ve probably been aware of for a while: American smartphone owners are upgrading a lot less than they used to. In fact, they’re hitting record lows at the two biggest US carriers, with people apparently more content than ever to keep hold of their existing device. This is a global trend, as the smartphone market is reaching maturity and saturation in many developed nations, and yet it’s most pronounced in the United States for a few reasons particular to the country. The article focuses on the United States, but correctly points out this is a global trend in the developed world. Not only are phones quite expensive, they have also been more than good enough for quite a few years now, and there’s very little in the sense of revolutionary progress being made form generation to generation. Earlier this year, I dropped my OnePlus 6T on a sharp rocky edge, and it broke the glass back. I sent it in for repairs – €40, not bad – and while it was being repaired, I dusted off my old Nexus 6P and used it instead. I was surprised by just how perfectly fine and usable it was – sure, it was a little slower here and there, the screen isn’t as nice, those sorts of things, but as a whole, if I hadn’t had the 6T to compare it to, I would be none the wiser. It makes perfect sense for general consumers to stick with their expensive phones for longer, especially now that the market has pretty much saturated.
Silicon Valley’s favorite mantra goes “Fail often, fail fast.” It captures the tech industry’s long history of dismantled startups, lost jobs, demoralization, and bankruptcy. One casualty was General Magic, an offshoot of Apple that strove to develop the next level in personal computing: a handheld computer. At the time they considered the project an advanced PDA, but today we’d recognize it as a smartphone. Before the iPhone, General Magic created the operating system for the Sony Magic Link in 1994. Sandy Kerruish and Matt Maude’s new documentary General Magic details the colossal failure that ensued. Apple, Microsoft, General Magic, and Palm were all working on PDAs at the time. Only one of them succeeded.
As I mentioned, none of the native API of PalmOS 5.x was ever documented. There was a small number of people who figured out some parts of it, but nobody really got it all, or even close to it. To start with, because large parts are not useful to an app developer, and thus attracted no interest. This is a problem, however, if one wants to make a new device. So I had to actually do a lot of reverse engineering for this project – a lot of boring reverse engineering of very boring APIs that I still had to implement. Oh, and I needed a kernel, and actual hardware to run on. I’m in awe. This is nothing short of breathtaking.
Lying on a church pew with his arm over his head, 6-year-old Gordon Andindagaye whimpered a bit — in fear, not pain — as Dr. William A. Cherniak slowly swept a small ultrasound scanner up and down his chest. Dr. Cherniak and Rodgers Ssekawoko Muhumuza, the Ugandan clinical officer he was training, stared at the iPhone into which the scanner was plugged, watching Gordon’s lung expand and contract. “O.K.,” Dr. Cherniak finally said. “What do you recommend?” Here in the west it’s easy to grow cynical towards smartphones and technology, but the impact phones and smartphones having in third world countries – which often skip desktops and laptops – is astounding.
I am pleased to announce a significant change in Mer and Sailfish OS which will be implemented in phases. As many of you know Mer began many years ago as a way for the community to demonstrate “working in the open” to Nokia. This succeeded well enough that Mer eventually closed down and shifted support to MeeGo. When MeeGo stopped – thanks to its open nature – we, Carsten Munk and I, were able to reincarnate Mer as an open community project and continue to develop a core OS and a suite of open development tools around it. Over time a number of organisations used the Mer core as a base for their work. However, there was one that stood out: Jolla with Sailfish OS which started to use Mer core in its core and they have been by far the most consistent contributors and supporters of Mer. Once again, Mer has served its purpose and can retire. To clarify that this will be the official ‘working in the open’ core of SailfishOS we’re going to gradually merge merproject.org and sailfishos.org. Just another line in the footnote that is Maemo/Meego/Sailfish/etc.
There’s another mobile operating system on the rise, but this one is special for a few reasons. First, it’s not necessarily trying to unseat iOS and Android — it’s designed to run on feature phones. It also has received significant investment from Google, and in most cases, Assistant and other Google applications are preinstalled. The operating system in question is ‘KaiOS,’ and it’s already shipping on a handful of phones, including the 4G version of the Nokia 8810 and the Jio JioPhone. I’ve been using KaiOS for a while on the Maxcom MK241, and while it’s definitely better than the average feature phone, it still has rough edges. A KaiOS device is definitely on my list of devices, since it’s a popular operating system I haven’t yet had the chance to try. I like the idea of having a more focused, less capable device, with better battery life and less distractions.
PureOS has laid the foundation for future applications to run on both the Librem 5 phone and Librem laptops, from the same PureOS release, in contrast, they say, to Google and Apple’s ecosystems which still have separate OSes for mobile and desktop. Now, Google and Apple seem to be intent on converging their mobile and desktop platforms, leading to fear and consternation from desktop OS power users, who assume that the move will dumb down desktop OSes. While this technical aspects of the PureOS team’s accomplishment are interesting and laudable, I’d suspect that the bigger challenge for any mainstream platform will actually be a user experience challenge, especially bridging familiar UI elements between mobile and desktop user environments.