[kwlug-disc] RIM VP on apps and open source

Chris Frey cdfrey at foursquare.net
Thu Jan 19 02:30:15 EST 2012

I hope you'll pardon me for not quoting... I'll try to reply to the gist
instead of the specifics.

It seems we're talking about 3 things: money, open source, and
the technology.

First, I'm not talking about the money side.  I haven't spent any money
on buying tablets or smart phones, and I'm not asking anyone else to.
If the PlayBook doesn't do it for you, don't buy it.  I don't mean to
be encouraging people to spend money on a device that doesn't do what
they need.

Second, I assumed everyone knew the PlayBook was not open source,
so I didn't mean to compare it to Android in that sense.  If we're
talking about open source, on a LUG mailing list, open source wins,
even if it has half the features and twice the bugs.

And yet, open source is indeed a part of the upcoming PlayBook:


With C++ support, and libraries like SDL and vorbis, I'm tempted to try
porting some Linux games over just for fun.  I mean, they even have Lua
in the list, for pete's sake. :-)

It would be funny (and sad) if I could play Linux games better on the
PlayBook than on my PC.

As for licensing, the sample code is released under the Apache license.
It's not much code, but for a company like RIM, I'd have expected them
to craft their own license.  This is baby steps in the right direction,
and should be recognized at least.

But still, none of this is what I was really talking about.

Third, the technology.  I was impressed with the PlayBook when I finally
got my hands on it.  Maybe it was because I had heard so many negative
reports, and read so many negative reviews, that when I finally tried it,
I was wondering what people were complaining about.

I thought Apple had usability sewn up, but RIM innovated, to my surprise.

But it's the techology that I see as the potential here.  The lack of
apps, if I were to guess, is probably due to RIM's red tape more than
poor technology, especially when I read of what's coming.  I think it
can be fixed.

If the PlayBook's fundamental hardware and design and usability were
heading in the wrong direction, I'd be concerned.  But I don't see that.
I see a device that's fun to use, and might actually be fun to develop for.

Of course, I'm late to the PlayBook party, and maybe I get to see the
PlayBook as it should have been released on day 1, now that version 1.0
of the OS has been patched.  Even so, I don't think RIM deserves to be
talked about in the past tense, like I hear so often.  They are too big
to jump to such conclusions.  They are a bit like Microsoft, having the
resources to bounce back from a mistake.  I hope they do.  They have
a lot to work on, but what they have accomplished is worth looking at.
And the more open they are to open source, the better.

- Chris

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