Nokia S60 OS – Resetting the Competition

Nokia’s new iPhonesque cell phone the S60 has just been announced. There decision to open source the products OS has also been decided. I believe that the reason for this is that they are trying to reset the competition.

In the book, The Cathedral & the Bazaar by Eric S. Raymond, there is a chapter called “When to be Open and when to be Closed”. In this chapter there is a reason for open sourcing called “Resetting the Competition”, he describes it as follows:

When the development of the open-source X window system was funded by DEC in the 180s, their explicit goal was to “reset the competition”. At the time there were several competing alternative graphics environments for Unix in play, notably including Sun Microsystems’s NeWS system. DEC strategists believed (probably correctly) that if Sun were able to establish a proprietary graphics standard it would get a lock on the booming Unix-workstation market. By funding X and lending it engineers, and by allying with many smaller vendors to establish X as a de-facto standard, DEC was able to neutralize advantages held by Sun and other competitors with more in-house expertise in graphics. This moved the focus of competition in the workstation market towards hardware, where DEC was historically strong. (149, Raymond) [view][buy]

This, I believe is exactly what Nokia is doing to Apple.

Similarities with Sun’s NeWS and Apple:

1. Apples’ closed SDK and cell OS.
2. Apples’ closed infrastructure : Hardware, Network, iTunes
3. Apple is trying to get a proprietary lock on smart cell phones standards.

Similarities with DEC’s X and Nokia:

1. Nokia is funding the open source SO6 OS (along with [other open products])
2. Nokia may be able to neutralize advantages held by Apple when they release a free and open source alternative.
3. Nokia will be able to remain focused on selling great cheap handsets.

These moves by Nokia will hopefully make the cell phone market adopt more open standards as well as becoming a friendlier place for hardware manufacturers and for there users—you and me.