Smartphones, Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) and netbooks sit in that interesting space somewhere above what we historically thought of as a "phone", but slightly below a full-sized laptop / notebook computer. With a smartphone that can do most of what I need, I find myself lugging the laptop to fewer places around town. I haven&apost made the leap into a netbook yet, but I have several friends that have recently replaced their laptops with netbooks to take advantage of the increased battery life, lower cost, smaller form factors, and lighter weight.
These related markets (smartphones, MIDs and netbooks) have been a sweet spot for open source software. Sam Dean from GigaOM says that "open source operating systems are suddenly flourishing, especially in the growing netbook and smartphone arenas, and it looks like significant competition between them will lead to much innovation."
Juniper Research is currently forecasting an increase from 106 million this year to 223 million by 2014 for smartphones running open source operating systems. Juniper also sees open source operating system-based smartphones as an additional outlet for contributions from Linux and open source developers.
Jay Lyman from The 451 Group sees Moblin as the middle man: "I see all of this headed to a place where Moblin rests below a variety of other software that is more specialized to the particular device, whether it is a smartphone, a netbook, a tablet PC or something else." Dirk Hohndel talked about netbooks and the Moblin project as part of his session on Intel and open source software at OSCON.
Regardless of what you call this segment or where you draw the line between these markets, open source is playing a role. It is impacting innovation, developer communities and more. While these markets have existed for a while, they are now starting to become more mainstream with smart phones and netbooks moving out of the realm of early adopter geeks and into wider usage. Open source isn&apost the only choice in these markets, but it is becoming an increasingly important part of the solution.
What do you envision as the future of open source in smartphones, Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) and netbooks?