LiMo article in Washington Post (or "Another Rant From Lefty")

David "Lefty" Schlesinger lefty at
Thu Feb 14 22:23:37 CET 2008

Steven ** wrote:
> The article says "Anyone hoping to create new applications for
> competing proprietary programs from Microsoft Corp., Palm Inc.,
> Research in Motion Ltd. or Nokia Corp.'s Symbian must pay licensing
> fees."
First off, this aspect of the story isn't even accurate. I'm not aware
that third-party application developers need to pay anybody anything to
write such applications for Windows Mobile- or for Symbian-based systems
(whether the Series 60 ones from Nokia or the UIQ ones from
Sony-Ericsson). They most certainly don't pay licensing fees to write
applications for Garnet OS, which powers Palm devices (and which is a
product of ACCESS), and they never have. I don't know about RIM devices.

This writer is confused between, on the one hand, commercial license
fees for applications developers, and, on the other, the license fees
which device manufacturers (such as Palm, Nokia, HTC, etc.) pay to
operating system vendors (like ACCESS, Symbian, and Microsoft,
respectively) to make the units they sell which use those operating
systems. (Palm actually bought a perpetual license to Garnet from us a
while back, so they don't have to pay us licensing fees any more, as it

This is substantially different than, for example, the situation with Qt
and Trolltech, where application developers /do /have to get a
commercial license (for about US$2,000) from Trolltech if they want to
make applications which they will sell rather than give away (which they
can do under GPL 3 terms at this point). This is possible because, while
Qt is indeed open source, Trolltech holds the copyright and can dictate
commercial terms regardless of its status as "free" (as in speech, not
as in beer) software.
> So, I'd say it doesn't relate to OpenMoko.  OpenMoko is truly an open
> platform that you can develop for without restrictions and without
> paying anything.  "LiMo" seems to me to be some big companies grabbing
> on to what they believe to be this great new buzz-word:  Linux.
I'd say it /should /relate to OpenMoko. LiMo is about middleware, things
like messaging frameworks, telephony frameworks, etc., which is an
overlap area with OpenMoko, true. On the other hand, LiMo devices will
evidently be using not only the Linux kernel, but also things like GTK
and the like, components which OpenMoko uses as well. If the companies
in LiMo make improvements to GTK, would you recommend that OpenMoko
refuse to look at them on the basis that they came from "some big
companies grabbing on to what they believe to be this great new
buzz-word: Linux"...?

Seems unreasonable (and unwise) to me. People keep wishing that they
could run the OpenMoko stack (for whatever degree of "runnable") on
devices other than the Neo; they complain about how the carriers "don't
get it" (without necessarily understanding the nature of the global
wireless telecommunications business to any particular degree); the
companies in LiMo represent some of the largest carriers and
manufacturers of cell phones in the world....

I'd say ignoring them, rather than working to positively engage with
them, will ensure that OpenMoko is relegated to a small number of
hard-to-get devices for "hobbyists", and that the capabilities of phones
coming out of the "big companies" in LiMo will quickly surpass them;
these folks make phones for a living, not for fun. Be as suspicious as
you like, but I'd suggest that's unproductive; LiMo's published APIs for
you to look at, and they seem to be putting out a lot more information
(including some podcasts explaining their view of what they're doing and
the market as they see it), so if you want to critique 'em, at least you
can do it on an informed basis.

As Harlan Ellison observed, "Everyone's entitled to an /educated /opinion."

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