30 December 2010

Open Source predictions for 2011

It was interesting today to read two different takes on a prediction of opensource success in 2011. One from my friend Tom, who was reacting to a post from a peer to his management chain. They both got a lot that I agree with, but I think they both also blew it on a few parts. I suspect for a simple reason: they're too close to the subject. Having a couple years where my paycheck didn't directly depend on the subject has, I think, given me a bit more objectivity. So here's my take on the same set of questions.

  • Will ChromeOS from Google be an interesting player, will it merge with Android, and will it replace Windows on hundreds of millions of desktops? Yes / maybe, on one hand I hope so (leverage development efficiencies), on the other I hope not (android has turned into a cluster fsck that I hope chromeOS won't. / not this year, probably not in 2012 either... (I think Tom's just jealous he didn't get a CR-48 ;P, Bob gets full marks from me.)
  • Will Android devices surpass those from Apple? Depends how you define "surpass". Quality? never. Volume? possibly in aggregate. (I think we're all in agreement here.)
  • Will one tablet maker emerge that will clobber the iPad in market share? Not snowball's a chance in hell. (all in agreement.)
  • Will some flavor of Windows be more significant than Android on tablets? No way. (ditto)
  • Will we see more open source apps on the most popular smartphone platforms? Apps? Officially, no. Unofficially, yeah, jail breaks will add apps, and a lot of those will be open source. But I think the more common space here will be the under the covers stuff, not the apps. In that space I expect to see more open source library code brought into smartphone space. (I think we're all pretty close here... though Bob's a bit, vague. ;)
  • Will Linux gain further market share as people continue to flee from Solaris and install new servers for new applications? Tom hit the nail on the head here... Unix for Unix swap... boring. But I think it will happen as people flee from Oracle and the crashing remains of once mighty Sun.
  • Will there be more lawsuits around the use of open source in smartphones? I think it's a safe bet to say there will be more lawsuits based on software period. All kinds of software on all kinds of devices. It's going to continue to happen until we as a society step back and address our broken patent system in the area of software.
  • Will Windows Phone 7 beat out Android phones or iPhones? if I had to pick between the two, it might beat Android simply because microsoft will learn from the mistakes being made in the droid camp. So on the quality scale it might... quantity... nah, I think it's starting too late to have a chance.
  • Will LibreOffice pass OpenOffice in downloads? Will *what* pass OpenOffice? The fact I have to go look up what that is should tell you something.... Oh, this is OOo with a new name, and more fallout from Oracle buying Sun. Maybe, if they get the word out better.
  • Will open source virtualization via KVM start to gain market share against VMWare and Microsoft HyperV? Yes.
  • Will the “open cloud” become more significant and more widely implemented? I doubt it. Cloud comes at two scales: the companies that host their own just because it adds a bullet to some IT department todo list and startups that are the software equivalent to a fabless foundry. The startups goto the major players in the cloud, the AWS types, who don't seem to care about "open cloud" much. The companies goto their IT supplier of choice and buy a system, they don't care about open or compatible really, because they're the only ones using the cloud. So they will keep using whatever the IT company supplies, and they will keep 'innovating' faster than the open standards can keep up. Nailing Jell-o to a wall anyone?
  • Will Windows Internet Explorer continue to lose market share to Firefox, Chrome, and Safari? Probably. But they have a chance with IE9 and HTML5 to maybe stop the bleeding.
  • Will Diaspora replace FaceBook? Sadly, no.
  • Will any open source system replace WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla in the top three of open source content management systems? Doubt it, but you never know.
  • Will 2011 be the Year of the Linux Desktop? Haha. No. That was, at best, in 2008 or so... before windows 7 came out. Real unix users have already moved to OS/X on the desktop, and windows 7 doesn't suck just enough to be better than the versions that came before it. Sorry GNU/Linux desktop fans, you had your chance, the desktop market was wide open to you... if all the efforts put into all the competing code bases had been aligned you likely would have had a resounding victory. But you forked yourself silly and competed with each other instead of working together, so none of your 20 desktop systems, or 40 email clients, or 12 web browsers, or 92 editors, or 420 minesweeper clones will ever really have any success on the desktop. No, Linux will remain in the datacenter and embedded in devices, unknown by the vast majority of users... because they won't care how the service works, just that it does. That said, where Linux on the "desktop" has a chance, is actually the embedded space... ChromeOS. The concept here is pretty solid, I think google is on to something with this. A large portion of what my parents, my in-laws and my wife use computers for these days is all on the web. The thin client we all wanted back in the day is here... it's ChromeOS as implemented on the CR-48 (and hopefully better devices in the future)!


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