Think of mobile phones, and you don't immediately think of free software, although Google's Android may start to change that if it takes off as the company hopes. But there are other places in the mobile stack where open source can be used, and one of them – content delivery – just got a massive injection of GPL'd code:
Volantis Systems, which provides the Intelligent Content Delivery software delivering mobile content to more than 350 million mobile phone users worldwide, today released its Mobility Server to the open source community under the GNU General Public License (GPL), version three. In all the company opened 1.2 million lines of code, the result of seven years’ of development, to the community. The company also launched the Mobility Server Project to help developers build out the mobile platform.
Volantis is the first mobile content delivery solutions vendor to open source its code and the effort is part of the company’s move to the enterprise market. In offering its Mobility Server to the community, Volantis hopes to drive adoption and encourage more companies to bring usable and compelling content to the mobile Web.
Of course, Volantis is not doing this entirely out of the goodness of its heart, but has a little problem it needs to solve:
The mobile Web is the next major growth point for online communications, but the ever-growing variety of mobile devices on the market makes it difficult to develop powerful Web applications. Volantis Mobility Sever makes it cheap and easy for companies to create this content and distribute it to the more than 5,000 mobile devices currently on the market.
The problem, of course, is how Volantis can write code fast enough to support the next 5,000 mobile devices. One solution is to get some help from handset makers and the community of content providers who would also like to see particular devices supported. Opening the code makes it much easier for third-parties to join in the fun. Volantis gains, companies with content gain, handset users gain. The dynamics that lie behind this win-win-win is partly why open source is unstoppable.