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An Interview with Peter Kronowitt, Software Strategist for the Intel Open Source Technology Center

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Matthew Sacks and Peter Kronowitt discuss how the Moblin project is innovating mobile software development and the future of the mobile device arena.

Matthew Sacks is a System Administrator and Technical writer for TheBitsource.com.

Peter Kronowitt is a software strategist for the Intel Open Source technology center and is involved in promoting open source software throughout and outside of Intel. In this interview with Matthew Sacks, Kronowitt offers some insights into Intel's involvement on the Moblin project and its contribution to the mobile computing community.

Matthew Sacks: Given that most mobile devices are proprietary platforms, what's your opinion on the general landscape for software being designed for mobile devices? Is it moving to primarily open source?

Peter Kronowitt: As you point out, hundreds of millions of cell phones are sold each year, and the vast majority are proprietary. eMarketer estimates that the number of people using handheld devices to access the Internet will triple by 2012, and more than 20% of all mobile phone subscribers will also use their phones to access the Internet. Also, Linux as a percentage of the total smartphone market is expected to grow. Symbian is moving to open source, but it will take some time for the project and the community to mature. Between Linux, Symbian, the maturity of the software stack, and the pace of open source innovation, it makes sense that open source will continue its fast-paced growth.

Matthew: How will open source development for mobile devices contribute to the quality of software that runs on mobile platforms?

Peter: Those of us who are enthusiastic about open source will say that open source produces high-quality software. There are many who debate the quality of open source. My belief is that when a large community surrounds an open source project and there's wide usage, you find exceptionally high-quality code. Since the quantity of devices will grow, the open source projects supporting those popular devices should have great code. Moblin will be integral in both shipping large volumes of devices and attracting a large community.

Matthew: The Moblin project's software development kit is planned to support consumer electronics. Currently, does Moblin only support mobile Internet devices and netbooks?

Peter: Moblin currently supports MIDs [mobile Internet devices], netbooks, nettops, and in-vehicle infotainment devices. In the future, Moblin will also support other embedded devices.

Matthew: How does Moblin make mobile open source development more effective and standardized?

Peter: Intel intends for Moblin to extend application compatibility between devices, since they're based on Intel architecture. This is a very important point for Moblin. A software vendor can write an application once; with minor changes to accommodate the user interface and touch screen, it will work across a wide range of devices. This will make it very attractive for commercial application vendors and the open source community to develop programs for a new class of devices.

Matthew: What's your vision for mobile open source development? Where would you like to see it in 20 years?

Peter: My venture capital funding is pending; I'm not sure I should answer this question. <g> The one thing I can say is that its obvious storage density, rich web development momentum, and microprocessors computation capabilities are all increasing. My take is that we'll finally see that one device with a wide range of usages, which we don't see today. These devices will facilitate the use of large amounts of private data [through] seamless interaction with rich applications across the world. Collaboration with people will become easier and voice commands will become standard. Beyond these few things, it's difficult to see clearly 20 years ahead.

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