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Monday January 26th 2015

Open Source Phones May Have Brighter Futures Than You Think





Three years ago, In a post here on OStatic, I asked this question:  "Is It Too Late for an Open Source Challenge to Android?" And now, as we’ve been covering recently, a number of players are seeking to answer that question. Mobile phones based on Mozilla’s Firefox OS and Ubuntu are imminent, as are smartphones based on Tizen Linux. There are other smaller players in the mix as well.

As these phones based on open platforms hit the market, it remains to be seen whether the open source community might embrace them. In a sign that the community might just do that, respondents to a recent survey said that of all major mobile operating systems, they would prefer Ubuntu on their phones.

The folks over at FOSS Force ran a survey that yielded hundreds of responses and asked mobile users which of these operating systems they would prefer on their phones: Symbian, Ubuntu, Android, Windows, Firefox OS, iOS, MeeGo, Mer, Blackberry 10 and Other. According to the results announcement:

"Ubuntu was the clear winner here, garnering 140 votes or 59% of those cast – which was down from 66% in the previous poll. In second place was Android with 34 votes, 14% of the total, which was consistent with the previous poll. Firefox OS took third place, with 20 votes or 8% of the total."

Of course, it should be noted that this survey was taken a FOSS-friendly site, so the bias toward open source might be in play in the results, but nevertheless, we’ve had our eyes on Firefox OS and Ubuntu as dark horses in the mobile phone wars for some time. Jon Buys discussed the advantages of Ubuntu phones in this post. And, potential users have already expressed much enthusiasm about Firefox OS phones.

The challenge for these phones is going to be getting app developers to deliver compelling apps quickly. There are many of those for established mobile operating systems, and that’s where the competition will be. The early word is, though, that the FOSS community itself might drive the success of open source mobile operating systems. 

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