in Mobile, Open Source, Technology

2010 – When Android & iOS became very ‘Open’

In hindsight, 2010 has definitely been a fantastic year for Open Source; be it software, hardware, applications, etc. Leveraging the same point of view further, 2010 has also been a brilliant year for open source software projects developed for mobile applications. Black Duck Software which serves as a good barometer for several open source software projects, showed that Google Android provided a fantastic mobile software platform for open source developers to produce superlative applications; followed by Apple’s iOS which was also decent in terms of the number of open source applications it owns at present.

Android - iOS

If it were 3 or 4 years ago, this kind of freedom to work on open source codes by developers did not exist. Now, it is completely different, with Open Source gaining the right kind of attention. It must also be noted that developers are considered to be innovative and creative which is why they are seen as artists. So, if a firm gives them whatever they want, they are bound to churn-out unimaginable software applications. This is exactly what happened with Google Android and Apple iOS, more with the former than the latter – The liberty to use open source codes to develop fantastic apps.

Some Statistics and Figures

Black Duck’s review of about 9000 free and open source mobile projects saved in its KnowledgeBase in the year 2010, threw up the following results:

  • 3,800 of these 9,000 projects were approved and auctioned during the year.
  • 55% (1,716) of these projects were bought or owned by Android.
  • Followed by Apple iOS which owned 39% (1,219) of the entire gamut of projects that were auctioned.
  • Other players like Windows, Palm, Blackberry, and Symbian only accounted for 2 percent each or fewer of new projects, with MeeGo notching up only a handful of projects.

Black Duck’s POV

“Mobile software has the full and focused attention of commercial and FOSS (free and open source software) development communities.” — Peter Vescuso, Executive VP at Black Duck.

“As mobile apps displace desktop applications and mobile devices displace laptops and desktops, we expect to see broad commercial developer interest in the top mobile development platforms as well as consolidation in the number of platforms that draw developer support.”

The Way Ahead

To understand what lies ahead it is essential for us to understand another fact which happened during 2010, wherein several mobile projects were not licensed. The popular licenses were GPL, MIT, Apache, BSD, and Microsoft. The numbers are without much doubt expected to grow, and I just am not referring to the number of licenses – am also talking about the number of open source mobile projects that will be accepted by not just one or two mobile phone OS companies but more than that. This is what could be expected in 2011 in terms of numbers. As far as the expectations with respect to the kind of projects that could be delivered, time can only tell us the novelty with which developers would churn-out software apps.