Open for Business

Open source systems have hit mobile telecoms in a big way. In just a couple of years, the dominant force in the industry has moved from handset manufacturer-dominated closed systems to Android, a system completely reliant upon Google and a developer community, becoming the leading mobile platform.

It’s not difficult to understand the appeal. For manufacturers, it is an infinitely adaptable platform, which can be worked on by a range of internal and external developers, making differentiation possible, while keeping the maintenance and upgrade costs low. For consumers, it means an unprecedented range of content and functionality on their mobile devices, through a user-friendly interface.

Open systems have also brought about a new phenomenon in mobile, that of interconnectivity. This is not just the result of Software Development Kits (SDK) being accessible for mobile platforms, but also, due to the availability of open systems across other industries, particularly social media platforms. Social network APIs, app store SDKs, and public domain source code have allowed functions on mobile as diverse as the iPhone’s ability to backhaul contact details from Facebook, Foursquare’s geographic mobile check-ins, and mobile banking apps anchored to a handset through open source access. The developer communities that grow around open platforms can connect a range of utilities, social networks and other systems together in ever more creative and innovative ways.

The benefits of this interlinking for consumers are clear; they provide an unprecedented level of convenience on the handset. For handset manufacturers and operators, however, the benefits are far greater. This interlinking of applications and functions from calendars and social networks through to text input has made handsets increasingly sticky. With such a degree of personalisation on a user’s phone, loyalty to a handset manufacturer and operator will be unprecedented. We’ve already seen that consumers are willing to embrace this interconnectedness and the convenience it brings, so there is no barrier to open systems being adopted at every level of mobile telecoms technology.

Relevant experience
KeyPoint Technologies is embracing this philosophy by making its OpenAdaptxt text input system open source. Already it links into your social networks and Personal Information Management (PIM) applications such as calendars and address books, and will only continue to spider out and understand the user better to deliver an extremely relevant text input experience. Having experienced this level of personalization after the nightmare that predictive text is today, why would consumers want to go back?

Throughout the technology industries, open source is being acknowledged as the way forward, thanks to the revolution it has brought about in the mobile industry. It is not, however, time for the industry to rest on its laurels, but to continue to drive the open source revolution into every area of the mobile ecosystem. The effects will be massive and lasting for the entire industry.

Sunil Motaparti is CTO at KeyPoint Technologies