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Mobile Carriers Cry "Less Operating Systems"

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the less-qq-more-pew-pew dept.

Communications 217

A NYTimes story says "Multiple systems have hampered the growth of new services, mobile phone executives say. " The story does a good job of capturing some of the changing dynamics in the mobile OS market — but rightly raises the point that given the sheer size of the mobile market, it's unlikely we're going to see the homogenization we have in the desktop market.

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Shome mishtake shurely? (5, Informative)

Vollernurd (232458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315843)

"FEWER" systems! "FEWER"!

I know they have trouble adding-up, but jeez...

Re:Shome mishtake shurely? (1)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315987)

How in the hell was this post marked redundant? And did the Times really make such an awful grammatical mistake?

Re:Shome mishtake shurely? (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316415)

And did the Times really make such an awful grammatical mistake?

If they did, they have since corrected it in the linked story. The title here may have been an accurate quote from the linked story's headline before making it to the front page. If true, I recommend Slashdot not fix it to "fewer" but rather adding "[sic]" to the headline here.

Re:Shome mishtake shurely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18316473)

It was modded redundant because there was three posts all saying the same thing when I got here.

Re:Shome mishtake shurely? (2, Informative)

PMuse (320639) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317193)

And did the Times really make such an awful grammatical mistake?

I don't know about "awful", but it is wrong. "Operating systems" is a count noun, not a non-count noun [wikipedia.org] . To be sure, fewer people will recognize that it's wrong (and fewer still will know its name) than if the Times had made a common error, like substituting a possessive for a contraction, but that doesn't make it right.

Instead of less mistakes, we should strive for fewer.

--not-your-friendly-neighborhood-grammar-snob
(That'd be my sweetie.)

Re:Shome mishtake shurely? (3, Insightful)

scumdamn (82357) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316021)

I logged in JUST to type the same thing. That grated on my eyes something fierce. I thought "Might they mean 'less operating system' as in a smaller one?"

Re:Shome mishtake shurely? (4, Informative)

doggkruse (621549) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316037)

THANK YOU!

For those who don't get it, fewer is for things you can count, less is for things you can't.

Re:Shome mishtake shurely? (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317075)

So you're saying theres so many OS's around that you can't count them?

Re:Shome mishtake shurely? (5, Funny)

antoinjapan (450229) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316139)

$ less operating systems
operating: No such file or directory
systems: No such file or directory

Cygwin doesn't like it either.

Re:Shome mishtake shurely? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18316185)

It's a perceptual problem: The carriers regard operating systems as something of which you pour varying quantities into a phone so that it works just well enough to produce a maximum amount of revenue for the carrier. Note how some mobile phones come with many useful functions disabled? Sometimes you can't upload ringtones from the computer, for example. Well, that is "less operating system".

Re:Shome mishtake shurely? (1)

Zelos (1050172) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316581)

Maybe they only count PalmOS as half an OS?

Re:Shome mishtake shurely? (1)

rbunker (1003580) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317267)

Thank you for this. "Less" vs. "Fewer" errors have become my bete noir (circumflex implied) lately.

Well, I wish... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18315873)

...they were crying "fewer operating systems."

Extremely basic language usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18315881)

That should be "Fewer", not "Less".

I like the way the admins like to call themselves "Editors", when they wouldn't stand a chance in any kind of real publication. Pathetic!

Re:Extremely basic language usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18316065)

It is slashdot, after all. Foul language, that, they know.

Answer (0, Redundant)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315911)

The answer is simple and obvious but unfortunately unlikely to happen: The mobile companies should collaboratively work on a single OSS operating system, which they can all use as a base, and then build their own stuff on top of that. It would be better for everyone (apart from the companies that make operating systems of course).

Re:Answer (1)

Erwos (553607) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316053)

This sounds great on paper, but I'm reminded of J2ME - all the apps get coded down to the lowest common denominator, rather than actually getting something that takes advantage of your phone. For instance, compare the J2ME and Windows Mobile versions of Google Maps - the latter is just far better, even though the J2ME version could conceivably run on the exact same platform.

However: I do think that non-smartphones will see a common Linux variant as their base in the future, with J2ME on top. I just don't think it'll happen in the higher end of the market, where SymbianOS and Windows Mobile will continue to fight it out.

Re:Answer (1)

CockMonster (886033) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316109)

They do. It's called Symbian OS.

Re:Answer (1)

iguana (8083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316817)

And it's terrible.

"Inside Symbian: the Platform Nokia Secretly Hates"
http://developers.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/0 2/05/139207 [slashdot.org]

I used to work for a company (Extended Systems, now iAnywhere) that developed on Symbian. It's a horrible development platform from what I was told.

Re:Answer (3, Insightful)

Tet (2721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316445)

The mobile companies should collaboratively work on a single OSS operating system, which they can all use as a base, and then build their own stuff on top of that.

Perhaps. But despite what the article claims, the problem is not a proliferation of operating systems. The problem is a proliferation of userland APIs. If the phone presents a consistent API to userland programs, then the underlying OS is irrelevant. To an extent, the mobile world has a standard API in the form of J2ME. But it's far from universal, and support is patchy, so an app written for one phone may or may not work on another phone. And of course, J2ME isn't necessarily the best choice of API in the first place. But your single OS solution could still potentially suffer from the problem of multiple APIs, so that in itself isn't a complete solution. I'll admit that it would probably help the situation, though, and agree with you that it's unlikely to happen.

Re:Answer (1)

saikou (211301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317345)

So do you want J2ME for MIDP 2.0? Or MIDP 1.0? Or do you want BREW from Qualcomm? 1.x or 2.x or 3.x?
No matter what you choose your APIs will multiply like rabbits. Because people want something better, something that was not thought about during development of previous revision/version/variant of API, something that cause a giant in-fight leading to exclusion from current standard etc.
While it would be lovely to have one standard platform I doubt industry would agree to restrictions that come with it. You have people running around with old phones, do you think they'd agree to give up their "precccioussss" for a new model, even if it's better and runs standard API (whichever that may be?) I don't think so.
So, it'll remain in "Oh wouldn't it be nice to have NNN" folder, unless some extra-hyper successful platform/API wins them all at once.

Re:Answer (1)

jadavis (473492) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317437)

The problem is a proliferation of userland APIs.

Right. The root of the problem is a lack of standardization. Each company wants it's own proprietary interfaces to everything, and that practice made them some extra money in the short term. Now they're whining because customers are expecting more and they have no standards upon which to build.

Take any major engineering achievement and you will see lots of open standards beneath it. The carriers want the lock-in without the inherent engineering limitations; big surprise.

Re:Answer (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18316519)

What REALLY makes me LMAO with this thread is that this is EXACTLY what you all rail against on the desktop, where y'all get a glowy feeling imagining a world with hundreds (or thousands) of different desktop operating systems.

Here the cellphone operators are telling you that this is a bad thing, and, ironically, you're by and large agreeing with them... Why not tell them that every vendor should pick their own linux distro that they can customize and install and be unique? Afterall, it's EXACTLY what you'd all do if the platform in this article were PC's instead of mobile phones...

-AC

Re:Answer (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18316615)

GG you just owned half of Slashdot readers.

Phone !=Desktop (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18316791)

There aren't many different ways of running a phone: as a phone and as a mobile computer replacement.

In both cases, though, there isn't a lot of difference in what people want.

However, on the desktop, you have the ones wanting games. You have ones wanting multimedia playback. Ones wanting media editing. You have people wanting an "internet appliance" system with little to change or look after. You have powerusers who want to get every last erg of power from their system. You have developers and server owners, websites and computational work, grid computing and router.

All these can be done by a desktop computer and they have requirements that are antitheical to the needs of other classes of use.

So the desktop has a wide range of uses, the phone has, at best two. There may be some blend between simple and smart phones but there aren't any phone-with-apache or phone-with-SETI-at-home et al.

Re:Answer (4, Insightful)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316933)

What REALLY makes me LMAO with this thread is that this is EXACTLY what you all rail against on the desktop, where y'all get a glowy feeling imagining a world with hundreds (or thousands) of different desktop operating systems.

No, I don't. In my perfect word there would be one or two core OS, and they would be OPEN SOURCE. So, there is nothing ironic about my viewpoint.

Re:Answer (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317263)

Turns out a mobile phone is not a desktop. Pretty shocking, I know.

well (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315915)

If/when there is one mobile OS they will be crying MORE, MORE!

Good! (5, Insightful)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315921)

it's unlikely we're going to see the homogenization we have in the desktop market.

I sincerely hope so. More competition -> better products.

Right now if a mobile phone gets popular it's because it has features that more people want, not because 'everyone else uses that one'. That's the way it should be.

Now if only we could get the desktop market to behave that way.

Re:Good! (4, Funny)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316099)

Except the razr, which looks pretty but has almost no features to speak of and breaks easily.

That ones popular because they've made a dozen pretty version of it. That phone is being treated like an accessory to an outfit rather than something to talk to people with.

If that trend continues, we'll end up with phones that you can't actually use with a plan...because they don't actually do anything except make cool noises (i.e. you can't communicate to other people with 'em).

Re:Good! (1)

penp (1072374) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316281)

If that trend continues, we'll end up with phones that you can't actually use with a plan...because they don't actually do anything except make cool noises (i.e. you can't communicate to other people with 'em).
Like boost mobile?

Re:Good! (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316387)

I bought the razr because I could keep it in my pocket and not even feel that it's there most of the time. It works out very well in that regard.

On the other hand, it does crash a lot more often than you would expect from such a feature-poor phone. However, from a physical standpoint it's hard to get it to break.

Personally, I'm thinking of trading it in for something a little more feature rich. I figure, if my phone is going to freak out and reboot itself in the middle of a conversation once or twice a month anyway, it might as well have more features.

Re:Good! (1)

L0rdJedi (65690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316679)

Ours (my wife and I) did this. Or should I say mine did this when we first got it. Turned out to be a bad battery. We basically swapped batteries for a few weeks. She thought I was nuts until it happened to her. I use my phone a lot and she uses hers very little. Once it happened on her phone, we knew it was the battery. Took forever to get a replacement. It was such an odd problem that customer service kept wanting us to swap the batteries and see if it happened again. Yeah, it happens rarely, so of course it'll do it while you're on the phone with customer service. Anyway, we ended up having to talk directly to Motorola (our service is through T-Mobile) and they sent us a replacement battery.

Aside from the phone being slow (I don't pay attention to what the screen says most of the time, it catches up eventually), we haven't had any other problems. Of course, since it's slow, you have to be careful when dialing numbers, otherwise it sometimes misses a digit.

Re:Good! (2, Informative)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316745)

You're full of it. I've had a Razr for over a year and as a phone it works really well. It fits nicely in my pocket, has no external antenna and gets fantastic reception. What features are you looking for? It runs java apps, supports bluetooth headsets AND file transfers, takes pictures, has a built in calendar, address book, and can text msg. As for breaking easily, mine has survived being wet to the point that all the internal got-wet indicators have been tripped and I've dropped it several times and it still works.

My only complaints with it are that the screen gets full of pocket lint, the OS sucks and the phonebook is essentially a flat file.

I'll admit it's probably over accessorized, but as a phone, it works better than most.

Re:Good! (1)

Dan Slotman (974474) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316337)

Similarly telling is the fact that many cell phones don't let you upload your own software, and cell phone companies tend to regard the idea with skepticism. And who can blame them really—I won't pay for a tetris program I could easily write myself.

Re:Good! (2, Insightful)

teh_chrizzle (963897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316359)

Right now if a mobile phone gets popular it's because it has features that more people want, not because 'everyone else uses that one'.

a mobile phone gets popular because it's "pretty". case in point: the razr which is functionally worthless, hella expensive, and in the purses or pockets of nearly every human in the continental united states.

Re:Good! (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316823)

In the UK the Razr is just about the cheapest tri-band phone with bluetooth - the two features I need. Which is why I bought it.

But what is good (1)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315925)

We need to look at the desktop market and ask ourselves "what degree of unity is good?" In the desktop market Microsoft has taken over to a degree that they can release software that will just barely get people by and overcharge for it. There is some competition but Microsoft has a dominating market share.

On the other hand we have a cell phone OS market which has no unity and is therefore much harder to develop for. While a move towards unity is good, we must keep in mind that a complete monopolization would still be bad

Re:But what is good (2, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317243)

But as a consumer, why should I care about how hard a market is to develop for? Are the prices a little higher? Maybe, but nothing like what they are under a monopoly. Price out Microsoft Office or Vista and then price out the most expensive thing you've ever purchased for your cell phone.

Say what you will about Windows (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315937)

Say what you will about Windows on the desktop, but the homogenization of the desktop OS is one of the main things that accelerated the growth of the PC. I'm not saying that it would be good for the mobile market by any stretch of the imagination -- one of the reasons we have so many OSes is that we have so many devices, each targeted at different tasks.

However, in my mind only one OS could possibly fill the bill for all mobile devices, and that's Linux. Linux is easily and readily modifiable, not just by license, but by the way it's grown into a modular kernel that's fairly platform agnostic these days, one that can be stripped down to the tiniest sizes if necessary.

If I had one mobile OS to choose from -- well, Linux would be it. And it's not just because I'm a Linux-using geek, but because it really is the best tool for the job.

Re:Say what you will about Windows (3, Insightful)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316155)

err, under that logic, wouldn't Apple have had an even bigger advantage?

Re:Say what you will about Windows (1)

semiotec (948062) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317133)

since when does Apple allow others to poke under its drawers to have a look around and fiddle with?

Re:Say what you will about Windows (1)

queazocotal (915608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316237)

I feel the same way.

I've been reluctant to buy a new MP3 player, because there was no supported linux (native) one.

Now, I'm getting a http://wiki.openmoko.org/ [openmoko.org] Neo1973 phone, come late march, when they go on sale.

Completely open-source, though not ready for end-users at the moment. GPS (the GPS bit needs reverse engineered to remove a tiny bit of closed code), quadband GSM, nice dispay.

MP3 player, phone, trip computer, guitar tuner, games platform, ...

You're only limted by your imagination. (and the hardware).

http://rapidshare.com/files/18781887/rect.avi [rapidshare.com] A one hour talk by one of the creators of the OS, OpenMoko.

The reason a phone maker - FIC - is interested in this is simple.

At the moment, they are one of several firms asked to bid to make a new phone from Nokia et al.

This makes little money.

If they can get into selling phones directly to end users, then they make _far_ more profit. Even if other people start releasing OpenMoko phones.

Re:Say what you will about Windows (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316239)

That still doesn't address the architecture issue, both software and hardware. I'm almost certain that ARM is the thing to use, but there are so many variations on it that I don't know if testing them all is feasible.

There isn't a good standardization system under Linux to provide anything that looks like the homogenization that you suggest. Every distribution does a lot of things a little differently than the next, and if every carrier makes their own, I can see that the flexibility is a double-edged sword.

Re:Say what you will about Windows (2, Insightful)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316423)

"Say what you will about Windows on the desktop, but the homogenization of the desktop OS is one of the main things that accelerated the growth of the PC."

Do you mean the growth of the PC in the 1980s, with all those DOS clones that have since died, or the growth of the PC in the 1990s, with about 4 flavours of Windows to choose from, not to mention all the x86 unices that were being born around that time? The PC was about the only major desktop machine in those days with a choice of OS, and the hardware itself was even more heterogenous.

Re:Say what you will about Windows (1)

L0rdJedi (65690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316731)

4 flavors of Windows that were all mostly compatible with each other or at least looked the same (if we count from Win95, NT, and 98). You could throw Windows 2000 in there too since it was technically released in 1999.

Anytime before that and there was only 1 version of Windows. Windows 3.1 and later 3.11 for Workgroups. Those were essentially the same version of Windows though.

The growth of the PC market can be attributed to that and the fact that PC prices plummeted during that time.

Re:Say what you will about Windows (0)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317081)

No they were not. Same base? Yeah, but they all had their quirks and where all not compatible at all.

It's the platform which matters, not the kernel (4, Insightful)

jodonoghue (143006) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316609)

Hmm... not sure whether the parent has really worked on a mobile phone platform. I've worked extensively on several: many proprietary RTOS platforms, Linux and Windows Mobile, with a little Symbian thrown in.

Linux is a kernel. A pretty good one, I grant, but it only provides kernel services. The key to a mobile device is what sits on top of the kernel, and Linux has less of a good story to tell. Look at Windows mobile or Symbian and you'll notice that they each provide a well-defined set of telephony oriented services and APIs and a set of applications which use these.

If you want to build a product based on Symbian or Windows Mobile, you basically just have to implement a set of well-defined APIs and device drivers for your platform and you're good to go. While this is far from being a trivial undertaking, it provides a stable environment for 3rd party application developers, who stand a reasonable chance that their application will work as expected on any device supporting the OS.

The Linux situation is fast-developing, but there's no question that the rich telephony middleware layer isn't really there yet. There are a variety of different consortia, all of which have websites with "white papers" and some of which have formal API documents. To my knowledge, however, none has anything close to a complete, commercial quality implementation of a reasonably full suite of telephony middleware and user applications. I don't doubt that this will eventually arrive (there's a lot of pressure in that direction), but there's no 'standard' that I can see.

Let's just look at UI and application framework: there are at least two common options and a rich variety of more-or-less unsupported options: QTopia (which is probably the most mature right now, but costs $$$) and GTK+ (which is free but less mature on embedded platforms). If I'm an application developer, which do I target. Unlike Linux desktop machines, most of which resolve the problem by installing most of the libraries for both, space is at a premium on mobile devices - so QTopia devices require QT for the UI (and lock out GTK+ applications) and GTK+ devices do the converse. This is important to operators as a QTopia based phone is sufficiently different to a GTK+ based phone that they would really need to treated as separate platforms even though the kernel is the same.

At least the UI frameworks exist and work pretty well. What about the code to do things like:
* Manage a SIM-based phonebook
* Interface with a CDMA or UMTS modem (which needs to be specified
    in an abstract way to support the many different chipsets out there)
* Implement the SIM toolkit
* Implement all of the user notifications required for SMS, supplementary
    services, SIM and so on.
* Gracefully manage multiple network connections in a seamless manner
    (upmarket device probably has cellular packet service, Bluetooth,
    WiFi, possibly tethered connection to desktop machine, IrDA, ...)
* Secure update of the software images on the device
* Over the air provisioning of connections and services

I could go on, but I guess the point is made.

Sadly, Linux for embedded mobile devices risks becoming marginalized by a repeat of the 'desktop wars': several incompatible implementations of some pretty basic services which end up fragmenting the market because none achieves critical mass. Success means reducing the number of 'initiatives' (probably to one) and showing us the code. Enough of the white papers...

Re:Say what you will about Windows (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316677)

How do you know it's the best tool for the job?

Linux takes way too much space for an embedded OS and REQUIRES a 32-bit cpu. It's also quite complex and therefore better suited to larger and more featureful devices. Even there, the numerous distributions lack of standards and standardized packaging and nonstandard GUI hampers it.

That's the reason why PalmOS, Symbian, QNX and wxworks exist. Not to mention eCos, uOS, FreeRTOS etc. Linux is not simply the best tool for the job. Linux is the best tool for certain jobs, the rest will require you to choose. The mobile market is just too diverse to standardize.

Re:Say what you will about Windows (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316919)

Say what you will about Windows on the desktop, but the homogenization of the desktop OS is one of the main things that accelerated the growth of the PC.

Umm... No, it wasn't the ubiquity of Windows, but rather the fact that it ran on almost all common (cheap) hardware. The reason the Mac failed in the 90s was because they didn't allow anyone to make clones, but Windows ran on cheap generic hardware (Intel, AMD, and even Cyrix... remember them) and anything could usually run on it.

So it was decentralization that helped it along with the likes of Dell, HP, Compac, and even crap systems like eMachines and Packard Bell.

Actually, I'd argue the flaws surrounding the Windows OS actually created a support and repair market to the likes humanity has never seen.

I'm not saying this is a bad or good thing, but it created jobs for thousands if not millions of computer technicians around the world.

Re:Say what you will about Windows (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316961)

"However, in my mind only one OS could possibly fill the bill for all mobile devices, and that's Linux."

In order to arrive at the right answer you have to be considering the right question. It's clear, and the market proves it, that you aren't.

Linux may desire to scale optimally to the smallest devices but that doesn't mean it's optimal at doing so. Furthermore, many manufacturers won't consider the GPL. Linux is only a kernel as well and UI is critical to mobile devices.

There are plenty of platforms as good or better at configurability for small devices than Linux and they don't carry the burden of the GPL. Linux is free on the front end but manufacturers may not be willing to pay its back end costs.

Our needs (4, Funny)

daemonenwind (178848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315955)

What we need here is a good, old-fashioned monopoly.

You know, something we can praise for setting standards and reducing overall expense now, and hate for existing later on.

I bet it wouldn't be such a problem... (1)

RootWind (993172) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315959)

I bet it wouldn't be such a problem if they just left out the crippleware in order to nickel and dime us.

cell phone companies have hampered the growth more (3, Interesting)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315963)

Will all of the lock down, lock in, and prison sentences (aka 1-2 year cell phone contacts)
I once tried to get a windows mobile phone and they said that you must pay for 2 years for data + voice to get it at the deal price.
T-mobile is cutting off data / internet to non T-mobile apps on some of there phones.
others lock down Bluetooth to force you to use there network, and some have internet data limits.
The I-phone is cool but they only want you to use payed for apps on it.

Re:cell phone companies have hampered the growth m (1)

nasch (598556) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316977)

I once tried to get a windows mobile phone and they said that you must pay for 2 years for data + voice to get it at the deal price.
You're complaining that you have to sign a contract in order to get a huge discount on your phone? If you don't like the terms of the contract, don't sign it. Pay full retail, or buy a different phone. I don't like that BMWs are so expensive, but I don't begrudge them the right to set their prices. Sorry, had to get a car analogy in there.

Ah-diddums. (3, Insightful)

MROD (101561) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315993)

You have to feel for the poor mobile telcos.. They have to work so hard supporting a number of operating systems on phones so that they can hobble them and make sure that their customers are wrung of every penny they can be.

Now, instead of crying about possible missed new lock-ins because it's too much effort to write the shackling software they should just shut-up and let the phone makers produce phones that the public want rather than those designed purely for the mobile telco's mean, narrow minded, penny pinching marketing departments.

Re:Ah-diddums. (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317245)

You have to feel for the poor mobile telcos.. They have to work so hard supporting a number of operating systems on phones so that they can hobble them and make sure that their customers are wrung of every penny they can be.

QFT. I mean, where would they be if they couldn't charge me 10 bucks a month for an extra feature that costs them essentially nothing? What we really need is for cell companies to get the hell out of the phone business.

Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18316003)

These companies refusal to reuse existing standards and use of proprietary tech has hampered progress. Good thing that the PDA/Phone and portable A/V unit are converging.

Less != Fewer (0, Redundant)

RugRat (323562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316023)

Mobile Carriers Cry "Fewer Operating Systems" not "Less Operating Systems". RTFA or pay attention to grammar in your next life.

Waaaaah! (5, Interesting)

turnipsatemybaby (648996) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316025)

Oh poor carriers! Boo hoo hoo!

They're just upset because they put a lot of research and development into stripping the features out of phones that they find inconvenient, and having multiple systems means they need to spend that much more in tech so that they can hamper the new devices similarly.

I mean, they CAN'T just let the phones be, can they? If they did, then the phones would have the out-of-the-box capability to transfer ringtones and wallpapers 'n whatnot directly from people's PCs, or from web sites OTHER than the carriers!

New OSes have *nothing* to do with the fact that adoption is being hampered. It's the greed of the telcos that are hampering things, because they demand that phones be completely locked down so users are ONLY allowed to do what the telcos want, like paying 4 bucks for crappy renditions of Madonna songs.

Re:Waaaaah! (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316105)

Bingo. Well put.

Phones follow standards [like GSM or CDMA]. All the carrier needs is your ID (ESN, SIM number, etc). The rest doesn't matter. Unless you want to lock your "users" into half-usable phones.

Tom

Re:Waaaaah! (1)

turnipsatemybaby (648996) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317051)

Perfect example is a phone I had. Samsung a650. This thing could do marvelous things. You could even synchronize your outlook contacts with it!

At least, you COULD, if you looked at the raw capabilities from Samsung's site. After Telus was done with the phone, you could do NONE of that. They reduced it to a basic phone with no expandability other than what you could download from telus itself. They hacked it up so heavily, that even samsung's own manufacturers tools couldn't read the file system on the phone.

I was more than a little pissed at this, because I wanted to play around with BREW and J2ME development. But if I can't even upload my own programs to my own damn phone, why bother?

Re:Waaaaah! (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317023)

The carrier doesn't directly have to spend any money or research time to cripple a phone. They just have to demand that the phone maker turn off the features they don't like, and provide them the key information needed to re-enable said features once they've gotten more money from the customer.

Re:Waaaaah! (1)

Jasin Natael (14968) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317063)

... And this has the following effect: NO MATTER how much you pay for a phone, you can't get any of the features you really want. The only way you can get the features you want, is by forgoing the carrier's subsidy (which you STILL have to pay as part of your mandatory contract) and getting an unlocked phone directly from the manufacturer.

Which means that, in order to get out of paying for $4.00 MP3 ringtones and wallpapers, or $29.99 for a terminal/ssh client, you have to spend about $200.00 upfront -- plus, in some cases, currency conversion fees. And then there's the moral question that, since the carrier has actually made about $200.00 extra because you chose to get an un-crippled phone, it provides them with FURTHER incentive to cripple subsequent ones.

So, even if one operating system is a standout success, who gives a crap? You'll still have to pay so much for the privilege to own and use an unlocked phone, and run the risk of the carrier cutting off access to the applications you really want (it's an "unsupported" phone, after all; This recently happened to me). So many people just get free phones and give up any aspirations of doing useful things with their phone other than simple calling -- it just isn't economical when you look at the big picture.

the real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18316035)

"The barrier to innovation is higher in the mobile world."

And are you sure that's b/c there are so many OS's out there? And has nothing to do with the limits/restrictions carriers place on nearly all phones?

Add this to my list of reasons for wanting an iPhone. Someone other than the carrier appears to have majority control over my device. I'd rather Apple decide what I can and can't do with my phone than a Carrier who wants to lock me into certain service and apps. Of course, if Apple ends up tightening the clamps, it could turn into the same problem, but I'll take my chances for now.

OpenMoko fanboi (1)

Tony (765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316377)

Okay, I know I'm just a raving OpenMoko shill, but if you think the iPhone is open, you have another think coming.

Do *you* want control over your phone the same way you have control over your desktop (assuming you run Linux)? Check out OpenMoko [openmoko.org] , and the FIC Neo 1973. It's essentially a palm-top computer that also happens to be a GPS-enabled phone, all running Free software.

The iPhone will restrict software just as much as current offerings do.

Re:the real reason (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317091)

Hate to break it to you, but Apple has the clamps on full tighten already. In the case of the iPhone, the device will only do what both Apple and Cingular approve. 3rd parties aren't allowed to develop for it. Apple isn't your savior here...given the chance it will be the greatest offender. By all means though, take your chances for now. When Jobs says he has your best interests at heart you believe him, right?

Re:the real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18317403)

Ya, so you're also partly wrong there. It's not that 3rd parties are locked out... Apple just has to approve any apps that will be allowed. So 3rd parties will still develop and then likely submit to Apple for approval and to be sure it won't break anything.

I know nobody wants to admit it... (2, Interesting)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316193)

But this is why Microsoft is actually a good thing on the desktop market. I'm all for using different OSes, but the sheer number of applications available for a single OS (And in this case it happens to be Windows) is staggering compared to how bad it COULD have been had we had multiple OSes that were popular. It's expensive to develop cross platform support, which is why most companies will aim for the market that makes them the most money.

I'm still looking forward to Linux and Click and Run technology -- that is the first step of many needed to start surpassing Windows on the desktop.

Re:I know nobody wants to admit it... (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316367)

It's expensive to develop cross platform support,
It is not that expensive if done from the initial stages (Yes, MFC->wxWindows or whatever will be, of course). It'd be much cheaper if Windows weren't superdominant.

Re:I know nobody wants to admit it... (2, Funny)

sheldon (2322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316421)

I think he meant... It's expensive to develop cross platform apps that don't look like Ass.

Re:I know nobody wants to admit it... (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316639)

It's expensive to develop cross platform apps that don't look like Ass.
I humbly disagree with your assertion.

ROFL -- so true :D (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316777)

no text :)

Re:I know nobody wants to admit it... (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317277)

Dunno ab't mobile programming per se, but it wasn't expensive at all (and still isn't) to keep a Win32 and OSX port of a full 3D compositing app [daz3d.com] whose UI is consistent and sharp-looking across both platforms, with the only variations being OS-specific. OTOH, it weas designed for multiple platforms from the ground up, and uses a UI toolkit (Qt) made for multiple platforms. (The app is a free download for OSX and Windows - grab both and compare if you'd like).

All it really takes is for the dev team to use their heads when they design and spec the thing.

/P

Re:I know nobody wants to admit it... (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316511)

But I can knock up a tiny (<100KB) SDK or WTL application much quicker than a wxWindows one. It's smaller and it looks native. And most of the time 100% of the people that are going to use it use nothing but Windows.

At a pinch they'll run on Wine anyway.

Why pull in all the bloat of wxWindows when you can do something smaller, slicker and quicker.

Re:I know nobody wants to admit it... (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316547)

But I can knock up a tiny ( Sure, but you could also do the same with XUL or Mono or other technologies. You see, wxWindows was an example, not the full set of cross-platform solutions.

and most of the time 100% of the people that are going to use it use nothing but Windows.
Thank you for making my point then.

Re:I know nobody wants to admit it... (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317357)

Sure, but you could also do the same with XUL or Mono or other technologies. You see, wxWindows was an example, not the full set of cross-platform solutions

What produces Windows applications that are as small as WTL/SDK, and don't "look like Ass" to quote another poster?

Mono is like a third rate knock off of .Net, which seems pointless to me since the original produces bloated applications. XUL [wikipedia.org] seems to be some Mozilla internal XML handwaving used by Firefox, and not be much to do with developing small GUI applications.

Thank you for making my point then.

If portable GUI class libraries didn't suck so much, people would use them instead of the non portable Microsoft solutions. These days, I think if Microsoft hadn't invented Win32, we just wouldn't have as many GUI applications distributed as binaries.

Re:I know nobody wants to admit it... (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316441)

You're kidding right?

You can click and run most common GUI applications in both Gnome and KDE (and others) out of the box. In fact, this firefox browser was brought up through a menu. Weee. Whomever modded your post up, hey it's not 1994 anymore.

As for portability ... if the application was written to be portable in the first place [as another pointed out] the costs of supporting multiple platforms is not that high. Especially if the application doesn't do a lot of non-portable things [e.g. use assembler, depend on int == 32-bits, etc].

What OSS really could benefit from is not having people like you spreading bogons about how OSS can't do this and can't do that.

Tom

Re:I know nobody wants to admit it... (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316523)

But this is why Microsoft is actually a good thing on the desktop market.

Operating system advancement has been slow as molasses and almost always driven by someone other than MS. To argue that MS is a good thing for the desktop market is so wrongheaded it makes me want to send Gary Coleman to your home or business with orders to bitchslap.

'm all for using different OSes, but the sheer number of applications available for a single OS (And in this case it happens to be Windows) is staggering compared to how bad it COULD have been had we had multiple OSes that were popular.

I think your cause and effect are completely backwards. Because there is one dominant OS, most software is not designed to be cross platform and MS has the power to encourage that trend. Because there is one dominant platform, there is less value in cross platform toolsets so they are not developed as much. If there were four major desktop OS's each with 25% of the market, do you truly think cross platform development would not have advanced to fill the demand? As it is, some cross platform tools like Java VM based software is very popular among developers, and that is despite the fact that MS has repeatedly broken the law in an attempt to stop it.

It's expensive to develop cross platform support, which is why most companies will aim for the market that makes them the most money.

It is moderately expensive to develop cross platform because we have a single dominant OS and the vendor that produces that OS has gone out of their way to try and make sure cross platform development that works with their OS is hard. Even with that being the case, developers target all the markets that are profitable, not just the most profitable one. How many of the successful PC games never get ported to the Mac? Maybe 10%.

I'm still looking forward to Linux and Click and Run technology -- that is the first step of many needed to start surpassing Windows on the desktop.

Linux already surpasses Windows on the desktop in many ways. The main thing holding it back is MS's monopoly, not the fact that it is not as good. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of ways Linux could improve, but the data to date does not indicate that Linux becoming a much better OS would significantly increase its market share compared to Windows. The whole reason monopolies are so dangerous to capitalism is because they allow a monopolist to gain or maintain market share, even when their offering is inferior to the competition.

Re:I know nobody wants to admit it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18316527)

It's expensive to develop cross platform support

The only expensive part is for the cell companies to have to figure out how to strip all the features out of the phones.

I'm still looking forward to Linux and Click and Run technology -- that is the first step of many needed to start surpassing Windows on the desktop.

So that granny can click on HappyTimes.exe and just run the latest in trojans? There are far better ways of dealing with software distribution and installation than just "grip it and click it".

Giant load of crap.... (3, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316619)

That isn't the problem at all. The vendor of each OS has to deal with that problem, not the carrier.

The problem is that carriers want to develop features they can charge for on a recurring revenue (pay-per-use) basis. In a multiple OS, high flexibility world, features exist on the handset, not on the network. That means the customer gets to use music, video, voice dialing, games, photos, VNC, SSH, instant messaging, e-mail, etc, and it all looks like data to the network, or doesn't even use the network. This stops them from charging you per message/photo/song/minute of video, because messages become tiny bits of inexpensive data, photos get transferred to the user's PC via a memory card reader or data cable instead of through the high priced photo service (or as a message that is indistinguishable from a tiny amount of data), etc...

Developers don't write for mobile platforms because they aren't welcome there, not because there are too many OSs. When the carriers say that the number of OSs limits new applications, what they really mean is that it limits their ability to lock down applications as a service.

Owww, poor providers havin' trouble? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18316213)

Porting their crapware to multiple operating systems, that is.

I'm soo awwwfully sorry for them. If you can't take the heat (hire good developers), better stay out of the kitchen: after all, most phones come with PERFECTLY GOOD systems already, no need to put any more software on them!

Thank god (2, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316287)

I do not know about you guys but I prefer more competition and less vendor os lock in.

Java is huge in the mobile market as a result.

The problem I have is all the oses are dictated by the monopolies of the carriers. Even the menu's must work all the same and all applications except java applets need to be signed so they can be the gatekeepers aka the carriers.

Mobile Carriers Cry "Less Batteries" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18316381)

In a follow-up press conference, mobile carriers also complained about having too many battery choices.

Alkaline, zinc-carbon, silver-oxide, lithium-ion, lithium-thionyl, lithium-sulfur dioxide, lithium-manganese, nickel cadmium, ...
Rechargeable, disposable, ...
AA, AAA, button, square, 3 cylinder, ...
4V, 5V, 9V, 12V, ...

It's too much!

"Multiple systems have hampered the growth of new services," mobile phone executives say

article contradicts itself (0)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316443)

Two operating systems run more than 95 percent of the world's computers, but dozens of systems are behind the 2.5 billion mobile phones in circulation ...

Last year, two-thirds of smart phones sold ran on Symbian's operating system, an increase of about four percentage points from 2005, according to Canalys, a consultant and market research firm based near London. Microsoft was second last year with a 14 percent market share, slightly less than the year before, followed by Research in Motion, which makes the BlackBerry, with 7 percent, and Linux, with 6 percent...

So 89% of the cell phones in the world run one of two operating systems. Throw in RIM and you have 96% of the phones covered with three operating systems, not dozens. It doesn't sound too disimilar from the desktop market.

In reading the article it sounds more like somebody wants to push out any new entrants to the market, sounds something like the desktop market, sounds like a bad idea, sounds like anti-competitive, sounds like monopoly speak, sounds like somebody in management is tired of paying all those high paid engineers and wants to force everyone into the same phone so they can pay for a smaller development crew to cover everyone who has a phone and increase their profit margins so they can pay the CEO even more than he is worth.

Let the market decide, if the companies developing cant hack it, fold.

burnin

Re:article contradicts itself (2, Informative)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317195)

Your math is wrong. 2/3 is 67% so Symbian plus WM would be 81% according to their numbers. Furthermore, there are many Symbian platforms that make up that total, so while 81% run one of two operating systems, there are many unique platforms to develop for to get 4/5 coverage. It is disimilar to the desktop market.

Of course, no one is forcing these providers to support all phones nor is it the case that any of them do it.

The Apple approach (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316529)

The other approach that Apple seems to be encouraging, is to let the hardware manufactures support their own devices. Sure it means the mobile carriers lose some control, but in doing so they also offload some of the headaches. Mobile carriers want to control so much, that they are causing their own problems.

Re:The Apple approach (1)

moofo (697416) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316779)

Exactly.

Let mobile services provider do their job, that is sell Wireless voice and data service. The actual phones should be sold by specialized stores or the phone manufacturers themselves.

It's a bit more troublesome for non-GSM phone, but it would still make perfect sense. You can sorta alreay do that with GSM phones, provided they are unlocked. Switch the SIM and you're done. No support for your phone from the provider though.

No ISP is selling you the computer to go on the Internet.

Re:The Apple approach (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317287)

So you are saying that denying the carriers the ability to modify the products they resell and subsidize, something they clearly want to do, is somehow doing those carriers a favor? Is this another example of "Apple innovation"?

Apple denies SDKs to the iPhone for its own, selfish reasons but you can be sure that Cingular is not excluded from the process. Cingular isn't simply going to "let" Apple make the decisions you suggest. You think it's Apple that doesn't want a VoIP app on its device?

Mobile developers cry it too (well, "fewer") (4, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316559)

On today's build list:
  • Symbian UIQ
  • Symbian Series 60
  • Symbian Series 60 v2.0
  • Symbian Series 60 v2.2
  • Symbian Series 60 v3.0
  • Symbian Series 80
  • Symbian Series 80 v2
  • BREW 2.10
  • BREW 3.12
  • BREW 3.14
  • Palm 5.4
  • Palm 6
  • WinCE 4 SP 2003
  • WinCE 5 SP
  • WinCE 5 PPC
  • J2ME CLDC
  • J2ME CDC
  • J2ME JSR-184
  • J2ME M3G
And that's just the ones that I can remember off the top of my head. Some of these are legacy builds, but there are still customers who want them. A large part of our product family is platform abstraction code; if you want to support multiple mobile platforms, you either bloat your code with abstractions, or drown it in #ifdefs. In either case, you have to write to the lowest common denominator, and avoid anything that's even remotely platform dependent, which does engender decent coding discipline but at the result of reducing productivity. That's mostly a C issue, but even J2ME isn't immune, particularly when you have to deal with extensions like OpenGL ES or M3G.

If I never had to work in anything but (e.g.) J2MD CDC OpenGL ES or (gasps of outrage!) WinCE SP2005 again, I'd be a very happy bunny indeed.

Brew == Braindamage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18317233)

I develop with Brew. It was designed and written by lawyers. The API is stupid. The security and licensing requirements are asinine.

Re:Mobile developers cry it too (well, "fewer") (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317237)

A large part of our product family is platform abstraction code; if you want to support multiple mobile platforms, you either bloat your code with abstractions, or drown it in #ifdefs.

That thing you call "bloat" some call good coding practices. And it's not like it will bloat your binary if you code it correctly, which is all that really matters.

Re:Mobile developers cry it too (well, "fewer") (1)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317241)

I think that list is a little unfair, Symbian series 60 version 1 software works fine on Symbian Series 60 version 3 it doesn't take much to convert this over to UIQ (admitting i've only run this in simulation) MS Mobile 2002-2003ppc all will run each others software and most 2002 software i have will run happily on 2005. The only time thats going ot be different is when your locking specific features down from the OS's, in the UK no phone carrier I've been with (Tmobile, Orange, O2) locks down any phone feature. The companies do like to modify and stick in their own awfull awfull applications. Orange have taken this so far I don't want their future phones (They build in this really stupid sidebar) most of the O2 and originally Orange applications aren't complicated and could work on multiple versions of CE.

Re:Mobile developers cry it too (well, "fewer") (1)

Torne (78524) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317397)

I think that list is a little unfair, Symbian series 60 version 1 software works fine on Symbian Series 60 version 3 it doesn't take much to convert this over to UIQ (admitting i've only run this in simulation)

Nope, S60 3.x is binary and source incompatible with older S60 versions. UIQ is a totally different UI layer and requires that all UI-related parts of your code be more or less totally rewritten. UIQ 3.x is also binary and source incompatible with older UIQ versions - it's likely not included on the grandparent poster's list as UIQ 3 is not a very popular platform yet :)

Both S60 version 3 and UIQ version 3 are based on a new underlying version of Symbian (9.1 and later) which uses a new kernel and is absolutely not binary compatible.

Crying (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316571)

They are crying because they have to Port crippleware, and have Symbian, Palm, Windows Mobile and now iPhone developers to remove all the features that could be used to bypass the extortionate user services that they offer.

mod 0p (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18316645)

the most vibrant the reaper In a FreeBSD had long suffering *BSD and codLers OpenBSD leader Theo and some of the clear she couldn't taken over by BSDI of Walnut Creek,

Mobile Users Cry, "Less Phone Executives" (4, Funny)

shog9 (154858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18316847)

"Mobile phone executives have hampered the growth of new services", mobile phone users say...

Easy Fix (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317073)

The fix for this is easy, and I understand already implemented in Finland and a few other countries - phone manufacturers can't sell service plans and network companies can't sell phones.

Open access, open API's, competition in the phone market, competition in the rate plan market.

This appears to be the sweet spot for government regulation in this market because it increases competition, not decreases it.

I imagine it also drives towards Internet-based services as a means to avoid redundant negotiations with multiple carriers for every new feature a phone manufacturer wants to implement.

Its the file format, stupid (1)

MountainLogic (92466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317371)

Standardizing the OS is unimportant. Even the web is OS neutral, r.g., HTML, PDF, MP3, etc. The industry just need to define open file/transport protocols and let the handset makers innovate all that they want.
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