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7/5/2005
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The Open-Source Open Mic: Reader Email

I always appreciate hearing from Linux Pipeline readers and newsletter subscribers -- if I don't have to call the bomb squad or soak it in water until it stops ticking, then I figure it's worth taking as constructive criticism. And it's certainly worth sharing.

I have to fess up: It has been quite a while since I rounded up some reader email to share with the group. That's a shame -- you're a well-spoken bunch, and I literally have never ended an email encounter with a reader on a bad note. (Some don't always start off on a very civil note, but a little straight talk never hurt anyone, least of all a wise guy with a soapbox.)

Without further hoo-hah, here's a selection of reader email dealing with three of the past month's more interesting topics:

Handicapping The 'Smartphone Wars'

My editor's note for the June 28 Linux Pipeline newsletter took a closer look at the widespread belief that Linux is headed for fat times in the up-and-coming smartphone market.

Subscriber Michael Mientus wrote to suggest that firms are more likely to succeed in the smartphone market if they avoid playing a zero-sum game where one competitor's gain always comes as another's loss:

Linux has a big problem in the smartphone market. The problem is that it does not have a strangle hold on anything in the market. Linux does have one advantage, it is available to the people that can make it a leader..

Who should Linux count as allies? What technologies should be developed for a Linux smartphone today? Microsoft is pursuing 'Triple Play' or Services over IP or SoIP. Palm is trying to save itself with Linux. Asia is counting on Linux for its future. Symbian is the leader of the mobile phone market today. Microsoft is looking to outperform Symbian in the near future.

All of these strategies will affect the future of Linux in the smartphone industry . . . A company that balances the interests of everyone involved, includingcompetitors,has a good way of determining what is worth sacrificing and what is worth defending.

Another reader, Kam Salisbury, wonders if Linux will continue to fight an uphill battle in the face of a competitor that spends millions of dollars on marketing campaigns that the Linux community is largely unable to counter:

Matt, I agree with your view about smartphones but feel you may be missing the main point about the smartphone and file server appliance market.

It IS the computer wgen the appliance becomes the replacement for the traditional PC platform. For example, though I have an Ubuntu linux desktop at home that serves my needs well - My 'main PC' is the Pocket PC 2003 Mobile I am writing this reply email on.

For file storage, if I did not tinker with linux at all, I would just have a consumer grade NAS appliance storing my music and digital photographs.

In both cases, people just want IT to work. What the linux and open source communities are not doing well is publicizing how well linux 'just works'. Microsoft however, has people dedicated to that task who continue to hone their skill at marketing their solutions to business and consumer needs.

And finally, rseader Andrew Messina weighed in with a brief note on the competition between the Windows and Blackberry platforms -- an important issue to many businesses, yet one that sometimes gets lost in the usual Windows vs. Linux hype:

Interesting article regarding the smartphones and Linux. In my experience, Blackberry and Windows PPC OS seem to want to duke it out.

One important feature to a business-related user is the ability to intergrate with an Exchange or Lotus Notes server ( two of the biggest commercially available email systems). From my experience Blackberry has a reliable, yet simple solution. Windows PocketPC 2003 has a rich feature set but is notoriosly unstable.

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