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Overdue Innovation in Mobile
Collaborative source provides a unique opportunity

Why is the “collaborative source” development approach uniquely suited and required to drive innovation in the mobile-communications software stack? What are the early fruits of its impact?

Out of the principles of open source and the particular market and legal constraints of the telecom world, a best-of-two-worlds approach is being forged: the collaborative source development model that is spawning overdue innovation in mobile. Openness in development, networks, and devices is encouraging wider, collaborative participation in accurately assessing real-world requirements and honing effective software solutions. At the same time – in an industry that until very recently was fully focused on proprietary software and heavily engaged in patents discussions, especially around 3G and 4G – major mobile players are now willing to engage in collaborative development within an intellectual property (IP) safe harbor created to foster contribution and innovation.

The mobile software environment, consequently, demands a new and innovative development approach based on open source principles while being inclusive of all business models. A collaborative source development approach is emerging against the backdrop of these divergent forces.

Looking Forward
The vision is ambitious: the mobile handset will fully emerge as our primary medium for communications, entertainment, and work – a connected, open and highly personal computer. The forces of the mobile, Internet, entertainment, development and content industries will converge to fundamentally transform the experiences of consumer and business users, who are free to choose from a wide range of useful, personalized and relevant applications and services.

Mobile’s prospects on the consumer front are intriguing. The buzz at February’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, for example, was focused on how entertainment is evolving for mobile’s proliferation – filmmakers’ rethinking their craft and pop-star makers’ packaging their clients for tailored delivery over the handset.

Businesses, too, are eager to explore the possibilities of mobile. How might business applications be optimized with the handset availability of Internet capabilities that have been traditionally associated with the desktop PC (search, live chat, location-based services, and video streaming, for example)? And how will it be possible to reduce fragmentation among software platforms, in turn reducing costs to access these new capabilities and foster development of new services?

About Yann Dietrich
Yann Dietrich is general counsel with LiMo Foundation (http://www.limofoundation.org), an industry consortium dedicated to creating the first truly open, hardware-independent, Linux-based operating system for mobile devices. Yann joined LiMo in 2007 after serving as head of the legal department of the France Telecom/Orange IP and licensing division and EMEA chief IP counsel for Intel. He teaches IP and licensing at universities in France and the United Kingdom and chaired the IPR group of the European Information and Communications Technology Industry Association (EICTA) over the last two years.

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