Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Mozilla's new phone OS to slash smartphone costs

Mozilla's new smartphone operating system, codenamed the "Boot to Gecko" project, will entice new users by offering them a smartphone at significantly reduced rate compared to the Android or Apple based alternatives. In fact Mozilla are claiming that the new phones could be "10 times cheaper" than an iphone, but how is Mozilla (and indeed the mobile phone manufacturers) able to make such a bold claim?

The proposed platform, which is expected to start shipping on it's first devices before the end of the year (2012), is expected to be totally reliant on running everything from the web and cloud based storage. At present it is planned that all of the phone functions, including making phone calls and texting would be web based. This eliminates the need for pre-installed software which require more memory and a faster processor to run, both of which are expensive elements of a smartphone. The result is that the phones will be made with lower specifications and thus, in theory, reducing the cost of the phone.

Mozilla have also declared that the project will be fully open source in order to encourage more community development and involvement from an early stage. Announcing this at an early stage is a smart move as it should get developers working on applications now, resulting in a decent number of apps being available when they start shipping on mobile devices later on this year (2012). This will certainly appeal to the niche open source market who are still calling out for a truly free and open phone operating system.

So far the early signs are promising, a quick system that is truly open source and for a fraction of the price. However there is one thing that could hinder the spread of this phone, even for potential customers that want it: mobile internet connectivity.

Whilst this is great in many cities around the world, a lot of people outside of the main cities can look up web pages on their mobile, however this is at a speed that is slower than the old 56K modems. I'm not talking about in some hidden places in the mountain range of Tibet or a community tucked away in the desert in Sudan. Take the UK as an example. There is good to excellent cell phone coverage throughout the entire country from John O'Groats to Lands End. However outside of most cities the mobile internet connectivity is truly awful. I can imagine that this is similar in vast areas of the world, great in the cities, but once you venture outside of the city limits the service will drop at an alarming rate.

Will this be the open smartphone OS that the community is crying out for? The signs look promising, but if your not in the city then, at the moment, the best hope for an open future may be to keep an eye on WebOS or Tizen.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Ubuntu for Android

With a continued yearn for a free mobile phone operating system, despite the success of Android, users are still looking for a truly open experience. Canonical is joining in the competition for a share mobile phone operating system market, will this be the saviour and free and open alternative that we are looking for? Well it's early days but sadly the early answer would appear no. In this interview by Engadget with a Canonical employee named Richard, it is stated that Ubuntu for Android will be offered pre-installed by manufacturers and won't be available to download for regular users for now.

However this doesn't mean that the project will be a complete failure, it is at early stages of development and this thirteen minute interview gives us a little bit more information after an impressive introductory statement form Canonical:

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Pirate Bay moves to a new home

Follow the court ruling today (01.02.12) the Pirate Bay operators moved the site from .org to .se Sources from inside the Pirate Bay state that it is to prevent the domain being seized by the US follow the completion of the court case today.

Today the Sweedish Supreme court decided not to grant leave to appeal in the long running trial, which started back in 2009. What does this mean? The fines and prison sentences handed out to Peter Sunde (8 months), Fredrik Neij (10 months), Gottfrid Svartholm (12 months) and Carl Lundström (4 months) will stand, along with the fine handed out of £4.3 million ($6.8 million).

Per E Samuelsson (Carl Lundström’s lawyer) stated “The verdict is absurd, I am disappointed that the court is so uninterested in dissecting and analyzing the legal twists and turns of one of the world’s most high-profile legal cases of all time.”

However, due to the ongoing nature of the trial and some common practices in Sweedish law, today ruling does not actually mean that the accused will serve jail time.

Changing the domain name to the Swedish domain .se puts the address out of the reach of US authorities. Along with the name change the defiant Pirate Bay operators changed the logo from the traditional ship to a closed fist (above) and issued a statement via their official blog:

"2012 is the year of the storm.

The Pirate Bay will reach an age of 9 years. Experiencing raids, espionage and death threats, we're still here. We've been through hell and back and it has made us tougher than ever.

The people running the site has changed during the years. No sane human being would put up with this kind of pressure for 8 years in a row. An insane hobby that takes time from our families, our work (sorry boss) and our studies.

What binds us all together is a strong belief that what we do is good. That it is something we one day can tell our grandchildren about with pride. People from all over the world confirm this. We read testimonials from people in Syria longing for freedom, thanking us for what we provide. We receive more than 100 visits daily from North Korea and we sure know that they need it. If there's something that will bring peace to this world it is the understanding and appreciation of your fellow man. What better way to do that than with this vast library of culture?

With this said, we hear news from our old admins that they have received a verdict in Sweden. Our 3 friends and blood brothers have been sentenced to prison. This might sound worse than it is. Since no one of them no longer lives in Sweden, they won't go to jail. They are as free today as they were yesterday.

But what enrages us to our inner core is that the system, the empire, the governments, are still allowed to try to boss you and us around with one law crazier than the other. Do you think they will stop with SOPA/ACTA/PIPA? They will not. Because you won't stop sharing those files. Because we will not stay down. Because no one can turn back time. Together, we are the iron that hardens with each strike.

In this year of the storm, the winners will build windmills and the losers will raise shelters. So flex your muscles, fellow pirates, and give power to us all! Build more sites! More nets! More protocols! Scream louder than ever and take it to the next level!"

The Pirate Bay may have lost the battle, but from the statement today they are clearly indicating that the war is not over yet. Down but not out.