Fragmentation, Android, Facebook, Crowdsourcing news roundup

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 @ %I:%M %p | Technology

wpid-crowdsourcing-2010-05-11-09-22.jpgMy pre-breakfast news and blog browsing stumbled over a couple of developing trends. Here is a rundown and my thoughts on them.

Fragmentation, Linux, Android
Matt Asay writes “Fragmenting Linux is not the way to beat Apple.”
In this commentary piece Matt draws a comparison between today’s mobile Linux environment and the Unix wars of the 80-ies, and argues that Motorola, Google, HP, Intel, Nokia and others should look at the Linux server playbook. There companies like Red Hat, Canonical, Texas Instruments, IBM and Oracle are “working furiously to build a great core and then competing in the packaging, hardware, etc.”

Matt points out that the fragmentation could resolve itself and see Android dominating the market. Which wouldn’t be dissimilar to those Unix wars from which AIX, Solaris and HP-UX emerged as the main market players (albeit in that case fighting over a shrinking market share against Windows NT).

I agree with Matt that one wonders how many operating system variants these smart phone and other mobile devices really need. Seems like a lot of engineering investment that now can’t be used to compete against iPhone or Blackberry or Windows Mobile.

There is a difference though between the server market and the mobile market that is important here. On the server side each of the companies has direct access to the customer: the stack is already owned. The fight in the mobile market, especially since the introduction of the iPhone, is about who has access to the consumer and who owns the stack. For many years the manufacturers had to be content with a provider role to the likes of AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone who owned the relationship with the consumers, the users of the devices. Each of these companies are since working to own more of the software and hardware stack to gain leverage versus the service providers in who can access the consumer: and thus the need to each to have their own OS.

Brian Prentice’s blog entry is wonderful if only for its title: “Android – The best laid open source plans of mice and Google.”
He raises very interesting points on how recent patent saber rattling will impact IP risk assessment in open source projects, how their communities are organized and operate. It deserves a separate blog entry in response. I think though that the likes of Black Duck Software are, ehh, intrigued by the developments.

Android fragmentation really seems the coffee corner discussion topic of the day with more blog writing by Fabrizio Capobianco and GigaOM.

Facebook
Facebook has its own share of press spotlight with senators writing them letters. The topic of this attention: their continuing changing management of users’ privacy.

While I am a heavy user of Facebook and I like how it helps me stay in touch with friends, I am a bit tired of the seemingly weekly changes to the privacy policy. The Like button, the ads’ access to my profile, the sharing of my content with other applications and websites. Every week there appears to be a need to go in to my account settings and making sure I still like what others can find out about me.

Perhaps what irks me the most is that most of these changes are opt-out instead of opt-in. As a community manager myself, I strongly believe you should not expose your inhabitants this way.

The Technically Incorrect blog explores that “delete facebook account” is becoming a top search on Google.

Crowdsourcing
This leads me to the last topic of this post. Social Times posted a great interview with Chelsa Bocci of Kiva where she talks about the value of Facebook and crowdsourcing to the charity. I am a great fan of Kiva and how it allows me to lend support directly to people of my choosing.

By providing direct access to the loan profiles volunteers help edit, review and translate together with the launch of lending teams greatly increases Kiva’s reach from its 40 or so employees.

Chelsa characterizes Kiva as social investment and thus social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter are valuable. However, she alos notes that Facebook and Twitter have greatly improved the brand awareness but that is not yet clear if these social tools have increased the number of lenders. In other words it is hard to establish a conversion rate.

And with respect to our previous topic she also touches on the flip-side of Facebook’s Like-button changes: it’s value to organizations like Kiva.

 

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