[kwlug-disc] Computer-like mobile

John Van Ostrand john at netdirect.ca
Sat Jun 12 09:13:02 EDT 2010

----- Original Message -----
> I started wondering about this a few months ago. Which mobile device,
> they are all more than phones, would be most like computers with
> respect to the range of tasks they can accomplish. I believe that
> Maemo was eviscerated by Nokia so I would think an Android based
> device. What about the iPhone? Thoughts?

All phones are computers in some regard. I presume you mean something like general purpose computing.

I would say that even though the iPhone has lots of mind-share it's actually a poor general purpose computer. First the O/S doesn't multi-task. There is a recent API addition that allows applications to register call-backs of some sort, but it isn't true multi-tasking, more like cooperative multi-tasking. This means that you can't talk on the phone and browse your contacts to give someone information. Second, the iPhone is what Apple calls a "walled garden", or with less spin, a gilded cage. Apple decided that you can only get applications that it approves so it controls which applications are available for the phone and there's only one place to get them, yup Apple. And for this service they take a hefty percentage of the software licence fee. There are jail-break procedures for the iPhone and subsequently other places to obtain apps. If it's anything like my AppleTV box it may be hard to keep it open. The AppleTV box I have needs to be re-hacked every time it updates.

Blackberry applications don't need to be signed and a development kit is freely available. It's a java platform and it multi-tasks. The OS hasn't always exposed all the hardware functionality to programmers so things like accessing the mobile radio might be tough. RIM keeps updating the API to add new functionality as developers demand more and more.

Android certainly sounds like it has a more open platform, a familiar OS and more programming languages. This is anecdotal only, but a close friend says his starting acting up so he brought it back to the store. They said he had a virus and had to re-flash the device. He thinks a recent application download infected him.

Personally, I think android looks attractive, but I want to support RIM to keep money in the local community. Many of my friends work at RIM and are beneficiaries of their success, as am I. The amount of money brought into the community by RIM is very noticeable. I think we side-stepped the recession partially because of them. I also don't experiment much with my phone, so I don't tend to add much software. My latest device has everything I need without adding a thing.

John Van Ostrand 
CTO, co-CEO 
Net Direct Inc. 
564 Weber St. N. Unit 12, Waterloo, ON N2L 5C6 
Ph: 866-883-1172 x5102 
Fx: 519-883-8533 

Linux Solutions / IBM Hardware 

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