GPLv2 and GPLv3: licensing dynasty or end of the road?

The GNU GPLv3 license, successor to the pervasive GPLv2 license, was published in June 2007. Following publication several discussions have sprung up regarding GPLv3 s interpretation as well as the perceived benefits and cons as compared with GPLv2. So why the debates and disagreements and is GPLv3 really important anyway?

Firstly one must consider GPLv3 in context to GPLv2. To date, GPLv2 licenses the vast majority, typically 60-70% of all FOSS (free and open source software) projects. Moreover the Linux kernel is licensed under GPLV2 and is used in increasing numbers of consumer electronics and mobile devices thus furthering proliferation of GPLv2. These attributes give GPLv2 a privileged position in the league of FOSS licenses. Therefore any successor license has the capacity to greatly impact the FOSS community.

Historically GPLv2 was a watershed when first published 16 years ago due to its copyleft properties. These intend that users of the license continue to receive the source code and derivatives of that GPLv2 covered code, thus preserving users freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software . As successful as it has been, GPLv2 has also attracted a certain amount of criticism. These criticisms concern the difficulty in interpreting the license due to the lack of formally defined terms, differing views about what makes a derivative work and ambiguous patent license grant.

In writing GPLv3, the FSF (Free Software Foundation and original publishers of GPLv2) set out to rectify these concerns as well as advance the license in light of contemporary themes of patents and digital rights management. Specifically GPLv3 introduces new terms regarding the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), a new patent provision and new mechanisms for dealing with anti-Tivoisation. Firstly, the section titled Protecting Users Legal Rights from Anti-Circumvention Law is intended to prevent GPLv3-covered code from being included in technology or products that would be used to enforce the DMCA. Secondly, there is an explicit patent provision in GPLv3 but some argue that the wording used is not particularly clear or straightforward. Thirdly, the anti-Tivoisation section appears to place very specific additional obligations on users to provide source code and its installation information.

So what is the impact of these new terms? Is GPLv2 better than GPLv3? What are the differences? What are the similarities? If I were starting a FOSS Project now would I use GPLv2 or GPLv3? In our just published white paper titled GPLv2 versus GPLv3, The Two Seminal Open Source Licenses Their Roots, Consequences and Repercussions we explore these issues in detail. There are many issues that need to be considered in making such decisions and these criteria are explored and reviewed further in this paper.

The end of the road seems unlikely, particularly given that nearly 600 mature open source projects have already moved from GPLv2 to GPLv3, a transfer rate of about 10% of existing software projects (see Palamida’s website for more details). Additionally on the 10th September 2007 the Open Source Institute (OSI) announced their approval of GPLv3, thus providing formal endorsement of the license. Whilst time will only tell if GPLv3 continues the successful legacy of its predecessor we can for now analyse the issues and contemplate its future.


P.S. We are at the OSiM Conference in Madrid this week, come and speak to us if you are there also.

Sun's open source Java policy will mean very little for the mobile industry

[last part of the series on five traits of open source and its impact in the mobile industry. See also part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.]

In early November 2006, Sun proclaimed the most significant shift in Java strategy since the launch of the software platform in 1995. The US software giant announced that it is licensing several key components of the Java for mobile (Java ME) and desktop (Java SE) platforms under an open source license. With this move, Sun provides Java ME and Java SE platform reference implementations not only under its traditional commercial license terms, but also under open source license (GPL) terms. Furthermore, Sun has created a web-based repository for open source Java projects (the Mobile & Embedded community), and announced a governance model for it. It is worth stressing that the Java Community Process (JCP), the process by which third parties can play a role in the future of the Java platforms, remains unaffected.

With the open source strategy, Sun s goal is likely to incentivise the industry into adopting a single reference Java implementation and mitigate the threat from rapid market penetration of Adobe s Flash as well as other competing application environments such as BREW.

The fundamentals of open source Java
To estimate the implications that Sun s Java open source strategy will have in the mobile industry, we should consider four fundamental elements of Sun s licensing and trademark policies.

1. Sun s choice of GPL license, requires third party modifications to be also distributed under GPL for no charge. This dis-incentivises handset manufacturers from even accessing GPL code due to IP contamination concerns.

2. Sun s open source Java phoneME Feature and Advanced projects are reference optimised implementations, but ones which have not been optimised for specific phone hardware. Handset manufacturers today compete heavily on Java platform optimisation to accelerate the performance of Java applications and games on each handset as a means of differentiation. Even if an OEM takes Sun’s optimised implementation of the MIDP2 JVM, they would have to further tweak the JVM to adapt it to their particular hardware and add own memory or speed optimisations.

3. Sun Microsystems retains a trademark to the Java term and has a copyright on the cup & steam logo. Sun requires handset OEMs and Java implementation vendors to pass TCK certification tests for the base CLDC and CDC platforms (at a considerable cost) in order to be able to claim that their handsets are Java Compatible.

4. Sun’s phoneME GPL branch excludes about 5% of the source code corresponding to ‘IPR-encumbered’ code which Sun does not have the right to release under GPL. This means that you can’t build the full phoneME project from source code.

On the other hand, Sun did a couple of things right: firstly, contributors to the GPL branch of phoneME have to surrender copyrights; thereby allowing Sun to integrate these changes directly into the commercial branch. This prevents the divergence of the two code branches in a dual licensing model, as happened to Trolltech’s Qtopia. Secondly, Sun receives direct feedback from developers and is able to use that feedback within product planning.

Too much an effort, too small a change
Overall, I believe that Sun s Java open source policy will change very little in the mobile industry; the choice of the GPL license protects Sun’s revenue stream from licensing of optimised implementations, but scares off handset OEMs (in fact I recently had a conversation with an exec at a top-5 OEM that confirmed just that). Sun does maintain its revenue stream from TCK licensing due to its Java trademark.

Was Sun too greedy to choose the GPL ? Perhaps, as Sun’s optimised implementation is mostly licensed to ODMs; OEMs use their in-house optimised implementations.

Did Sun have any other choice ? Probably. They could have licensed the ‘core’ JVM under GPL and the hardware-dependent code under a non-copyleft license like the Apache license, so that OEMs could optimise for their hardware. When I mentioned this to Sun last week they sounded interested in the idea, but said it might be too complex from an organisational perspective.

I would also argue that Motorola s intentions for releasing Java MIDP3 under open source will likely see more uniform adoption and consistent implementation of MIDP3 across mobile handsets. This is assuming Motorola sticks with its promise for releasing the full MIDP3 source code under the liberal Apache License 2.0; Motorola wants to first test the waters by releasing the code under the Motorola Extensible License, which is a copyleft license. Motorola will also release the TCK under an open source license, which means it will be cheaper for OEMs to certify their implementations as MIDP-3 compliant.

– Andreas

[this article has been updated following a briefing with Sun at the Informa Open Source in Mobile conference]

How open source is shaking up the mobile browser market

[part 4 of the series on five traits of open source and its impact in the mobile industry. See also part 1, part 2 and part 3.]

Open source in mobile goes far beyond the confines of Linux-based operating systems for mobile phones. Examples are Sun s Java, Motorola s MIDP3 project, Microsoft s Shared Source Initiative, Symbian s use of open source, Adobe s project Tamarin, Nokia s S60 web browser, Funambol s MDM server, the Eclipse Foundation s open source development tools and the rising interest in open source hardware.

One of the biggest disruptions created by open source is in the case of mobile browsers. Since 2003, the mobile browser market had been dominated by three heavyweights, Openwave, Teleca (Obigo) and ACCESS (in addition to in-house browsers used by major OEMs). These companies had been responsible for the majority of mobile browsers shipped, while few manufacturers most notably Nokia had not only been sourcing browsers from third parties but also developing their own browser software in-house.

However, in the last few years, the browser market has been facing a number of challenges, namely:
– mobile browser per-unit royalties have been continually dropping, following the trend of software commoditisation. It is believed that browsers for mass-market phones today sell at a few pence per device.
– mobile browsers are inherently complex software, which have to cope with rendering malformed HTML (often called street HTML ), the numerous evolving W3C standards around HTML, CSS and ECMAScript and the proprietary vendor extensions (e.g. rendering pages designed for Internet Explorer).
– as operator walled gardens are opening mobile devices are being exposed to the wilderness of billions web (HTML) pages, as opposed to thousands of simplified WAP pages that we previously the norm. The complexity and diversity of these web pages have called for advanced browsers, which typically take years to iteratively mature, as browser vendor Opera attests.
– the differentiating features of mobile browsers lie not in the HTML parsing and the rendering engine, but in the value-added features, such as intelligent zoom and navigation.

As these pressures were mounting, a critical point was reached in May 2007; within the space of one week, mobile browser vendor Teleca announced that it halted investments into renewal of Obigo product , while Openwave announced it was up for sale following a 50% tumble of its share price in 12 months. The industry impact has been significant, given that the Openwave and Obigo browser families have claimed the lion s share of the mobile browser market.

Behind the scenes, this blow to the mobile browser business was struck primarily by Nokia s S60 WebKit, Nokia s newest browser based on an open source rendering and scripting engine for web pages. While business execution errors may have affected the demise of Obigo and Openwave s business, it is the availability of WebKit, a reliable, open source, core browser engine that essentially drove browser pricing down. Nokia s move towards WebKit also displaced some of its previous browser suppliers who lost a major customer. Furthermore, the open source WebKit has been developed into a first-class browser engine, under the auspices of Nokia, Apple and KDE. The corporate and community backing of WebKit implies that any further efforts to develop proprietary browsers is unlikely to be viable (although Opera and Access are still maintaining their proprietary browser products at the time of writing).

For deeper insights on what went wrong with the browser business see Bye Bye Browser.

– Andreas

[Want to learn more about open source and its impact on the mobile industry? Register for the pre-workshop ‘A Crash Course in Mobile Open Source: Economics, Licensing, Linux, Java and Beyond’ (see here for workshop agenda) delivered by VisionMobile as part of Informa’s Open Source In Mobile conference taking place in Madrid on 17-20 September. Next on this series: Sun s open source Java policy will mean very little for the mobile industry.]

Mobile Linux is not about free software

[part 3 of the series on five traits of open source and its impact in the mobile industry. See also part 1 and part 2.]

Linux is by far the software most commonly associated with (and often mis-identified with) open source and free software, where free refers to liberty, not costs. However the access to source code, ability to modify or redistribute, or the royalty-free nature of Linux are hardly the reasons why four out of five handset OEMs have adopted Linux. In other words, mobile Linux has not been adopted because of its free software qualities.

In 2007, handset OEMs have adopted Linux to varying degrees, from Motorola s portfolio-wide Linux strategy to Nokia s Internet Tablets segment-specific strategic experiment with Linux. The reasons behind the almost-unanimous OEM turn towards Linux are as follows:

– Reduced cost and time-to-market. The availability of a stable, high portable Linux kernel, hundreds of supporting royalty-free middleware components, thousands of Linux developer enthusiasts and a growing number of commercial mobile Linux software and service providers mean that mobile Linux is an effective operating system for mobile handsets, both in terms of time-to-market and cost of development. According to Nokia, one of the most successful corporate entities in working with open source, “Linux is the launching pad you need to stand on to be productive .. we have never managed to bring out a product in such a short time, with so few resources .

– Wider choice: handset manufacturers have considerable freedom in selecting the middleware components of choice whether from open source communities, or in some cases from closed-source commercial components. A healthy exists in Linux-based software components such as graphics frameworks (e.g GTK+, Qt Core, FluffyPants), application environments (e.g. Qtopia, Hiker, Hildon, OpenMoko, SKY-MAP), multimedia frameworks, PIM middleware, file systems and telephony APIs.

– Strategic control: Linux-based operating systems afford manufacturers almost as much control of the platform roadmap as their in-house OSes. Manufacturers are much less dependent on a single software supplier, effectively lowering the cost of switching suppliers, an important strategic consideration. Furthermore, manufacturers are able to steer platform development of their own Linux OS variant in any direction they wish.

– Scalability: The Linux kernel has evolved over the years, to one of the most scalable and reliable operating systems, powering commercial mobile devices from low-end single-core feature phones to high-end smartphones. Manufacturers may easily trim unnecessary features or add high-end features such as USB support and VoIP protocols which are widely available for Linux distributions for PCs.

– Quality: Peer-review of popular Linux-based open source software provides for fewer software defects ( bugs ). Both Nokia and Panasonic report that Linux-based software for mobile handsets has a high quality and very few bugs, compared to typical in-house software

– Innovation: The open, decentralised nature of Linux backed by strong developer communities, makes Linux-based operating systems a good choice for cultivating innovation. Chances are, a component will be already available somewhere in the Linux community ecosystem and can be adapted to a mobile Linux OS.

– Andreas

[Want to learn more about open source and its impact on the mobile industry? Register for the pre-workshop ‘A Crash Course in Mobile Open Source: Economics, Licensing, Linux, Java and Beyond’ (see here for workshop agenda) delivered by VisionMobile as part of Informa’s Open Source In Mobile conference taking place in Madrid on 17-20 September. Next on this series: How open source is shaking up the mobile browser market.]

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Amobee CMO Talks Up New Models For Selling Mobile Content; Is The Pay-Off Bigger Than Mobile Search?

[The Msearchgroove mobile advertising podcast series and close collaboration with VisionMobile continues with a look at ad-funded content and the impact of interactive advertising. And what better senior executive to speak out on this than Patrick Parodi, Amobee Media Systems CMO and head of European operations. His company got in on the ground-floor and has consistently argued that only user-centric (translated: opt-in) services will cover all the bases and boost everyone’s revenues in the end. Next week we pick up with ScreenTonic and keep up the momentum with a top-notch line-up including Hyperfactory, Enpocket, 4INFO, and MoPhat so check back regularly.]

alt=”ingameadvertising.jpg” align=”right” />sdc-amobee-fixd.jpgAmobee Media Systems made its mark on this space through a user-centric, operator-focussed approach to ad-fund the entire spectrum of mobile content. In a nutshell, the system enables targeted, interactive ads to be dynamically inserted into the full range of mobile content and apps, including WAP browsing, video & music, games, SMS and MMS. For a short while it was a lone voice in the space, preaching that only a system that puts operators in control, and allows users to opt-in to receive ads in exchange for subsidized content would ever gain traction. Granted, the space has crowded since, but Amobee remains a first address when it comes to delivering a new twist to permission-based, interactive advertising schemes. (Amobee also supplies developers with HAPI (Handset Application Programming Interface), which can be integrated and activated to make mobile content Amobee ready and conditioned to take ads.)

Take the recent tie-up between Amobee and Anam Mobile, a provider of messaging infrastructure technologies, to deliver a joint solution for ad-funding subscriber originated SMS messages. The solution effectively pays off for both parties: operators can boost their revenues through opt-in advertising, and users have access to a lower cost SMS package (since ads help subsidize the messaging service). It reminds me of the ads and messages that appear at the bottom of email messages, and which we automatically pass around. In a word, that’s the value prop here: a peer-to-peer communication and advertising model that enables viral marketing. (It’s quite unobtrusive, but relevancy is another story.)

At the other end of the content spectrum, Amobee sealed a deal with PacketVideo to serve targeted and relevant opt-in advertising impressions within that company’s media platform. Amobee also sharpened its focus on mobile music, teaming up with SDC, a provider of mobile music solutions, to serve opt-in advertising impressions. (The partnership provides SDC s white label music players the ability to serve contextual and targeted opt-in advertising impressions without affecting the mobile music listening experience.)

But the real news is deployment and operator interest in ad-funding. Amobee tells me both are on the upswing, so we can expect some operators to reveal their trials and learnings soon. In the meantime, I caught up with Patrick Parodi, Amobee Media Systems CMO and head of European operations, to find out how operators are thinking about this model and hoping to protect their turf at a time when strength as a gatekeeper in this scenario is waning. Patrick, who is also Chairman of the Mobile Entertainment Forum, the leading global trade association representing both the mobile and entertainment industries, believes the “user-paid” model is THE key barrier to the growth of mobile data consumption and revenues. His warning: Adapt or die.

Listen to the podcast here. [21:02]


Don’t get fooled again: As the mobile phone is fast becoming a media channel, bringing advertisers on board in a way that creates value for all stakeholders will lead to a better and bigger market for all. Patrick says signs are good so far that mobile operators have learned the lessons of the fixed Internet and finally figured out that giving it all up to Google & Co. is a short-term solution that’s bad for business long-term. “We ve been excited about seeing some operators take charge – taking a more active role in the ad model as opposed to just saying: Well, you know, at this point we re getting commoditized so we should let some of the Web guys come in and figure out how to monetize the audience.’ We re very much on the operators’ side of the fence in this particular battle that is beginning in this space and we feel that they re in a much better position to provide relevancy and to provide an environment that is going to be positive for the user, positive for the media company, positive for the advertiser and of course positive for themselves as they grow their own brand and their relationship with users.”

Social media hype: Sure, there’s a lot of excitement about the Facebooks, Bebos, MySpaces and other social networking destinations that we can rattle off. But Patrick thinks there’s also a lot more mileage in SMS, which he regards as the mother of all social networks. “I think our implementation of SMS is probably different than some of the others in the sense that it s not application to person, it s really person-to-person.” This approach underlines the importance of the operator, which sits at the center and makes sure ads are inserted in a way that benefits everyone. By utilizing the unused part of the SMS payload, which is what Amobee enables, an SMS exchange between users can be a vehicle that delivers “an ad impression in a relevant manner.” The operator could sweeten the offer by providing users “some type of benefit to be part of a loyalty program, some type of ability to get an upgrade on their handsets or even a reduced cost for the SMS bundle.”

Mobile search matters?:
Not until the industry gets it right. “To look at the web and say Well, you know, search is now garnering 50 percent of the online advertising revenue’ and then therefore to assume the same thing is going to happen on mobile is a bit simplistic.” Patrick is lukewarm on search and convinced that when it does finally arrive the user experience needs a rethink. “Clearly, what I ll be searching for on a mobile phone is going to be different. It s going to be much more tied to location and to immediacy.” Don’t get too excited about the tie-up between mobile search and mobile advertising just yet. “I don t see that as being the highest incidences of impressions being served on a mobile phone in the short-term. I think there s much more that s going to happen .The notion of using the unused part of the peer-to-peer SMS payload as a way to deliver an ad impression [is] going to lead to much higher volumes of inventory in the short-term.” [Well, Patrick may believe this play on P2P communications will drive more advertising. However, I would contend that ads in connection with search results conveniently placed when we are in buy-mode, not chat-mode will pay bigger dividends.]

Skin in the game:Ad-funded can be a particular boost in the case of mobile games, a market that hasn’t “been able to break beyond the 5 percent of mobile users downloading a game over the air for two years now.” If you figure it’s still managed to chalk up impressive growth, then you can imagine the hockey stick in usage when the price can come down as part of an ad-funded content pitch. “It’s exciting for us to be able to be part of a new business model that is going to boost the number of users by reducing, potentially, the price of a game by 25 – 30 percent.” He adds: “It means that the developer and the aggregator and the publisher are getting paid more based on game plays as opposed to downloads. It s going to have an inherent [knock on] effect, producing better games for the industry. I think a lot of people have complained about the poor quality of mobile games. Well, if the model shifts from a pay-per-download to a pay-per-game play for the developer and the IP owners of these games, you could see how that would have a positive effect overall on the mobile games business.” Look for Amobee to “launch some key video trials” to gather the metrics that will tell us more about the right price point for these types of services and how much the brands and the agencies are prepared to pay for those impressions.

More to come:
So far only Orange in France has come out of stealth mode, admitting it has launched a mobile ad-funded trial with Amobee. (Brands include Coke and Saab, and the ads are served interstitially during idle time in between levels or while a mobile game is loading.) In Asia, Amobee has tied up with Hungama Mobile, a provider of mobile marketing applications and the largest aggregator of Bollywood and South Asian content globally, to raise the profile of ad-funded content in the South Asian market. (Hungama has already implemented more than 600 mobile advertising campaigns for its portfolio of over 100 leading brands, such as McDonald s, Coca-Cola, Citibank, Apple etc.) What’s next? Patrick expects more of Amobee’s operator customers to go on the record with their trials and results to date.

BTW: Patrick can’t share stats, but I did report on this during the 16 months I covered the space (and specifically mobile search) for MoCoNews. Based on aggregated data from multiple trials with tier 1 operators in multiple markets, Amobee reported (last November) that for every user who paid to download mobile content, up to 50 users went for the ad-funded offer. The advertising revenues can be worth as much as four times the equivalent download value. Patrick later told me that, when given the choice, over 90 percent of users opted for the ad-funded version rather than pay full price for ad-free content.

Special thanks to the Amobee team and Cristina Whittington @ Nelson Bostock for arranging this interview and my invitation to other companies to keep the pitches coming. If you’re not keen to participate in a podcast, contact me directly to be included in my strategic white paper, a research project I have undertaken for a client to show off the best& brightest in the mobile ad space and weigh their relative strengths and weaknesses.

Turning corporate software development on its head

[part 2 of the series on five traits of open source and its impact in the mobile industry. See also part 1]

Open source is in many ways the antithesis of corporate software development. The culture and dynamics of OSS development are defined by the nuances of a software community collaborating over the Internet. A community is typically formed by a combination of paid-for, pro-bono and hobbyist software developers with the same motivation towards solving a particular problem ( scratching an itch in open source lingo). Community members are motivated by personal needs, peer recognition and last (and often least) financial reward. Communities are formed and organised ad-hoc around opinion leaders who are recognised based on the merit of their contributions to the community. This environment defies most rules of corporate software development:

– Processes and roadmaps: The mobile industry is accustomed to 100% specified and controlled development environments. However, thousands of open source software projects thrive despite a lack of project requirements and feature roadmaps. Open source development addresses features on an ad hoc basis; OSS projects are thereby evolved, not designed, driven by the needs and wants of individual developers or commercial participants into Linux development.

– Partner selection and management: Corporate software development projects rely on warrantees, indemnity clauses, non-disclosure agreements and service-level and marketing agreements. Each agreement is unique to the customer-supplier relationship and takes months to set up, adding up to an expensive relationship management. Moreover, software suppliers are chosen based on RFIs and RFPs which often consume extensive resources and time. On the contrary, open source software comes under oft-used licenses such as the GPL, LGPL and BSD, irrespective of the entities using or developing the software. Use of a few well-understood licenses in open source projects results in significantly reduced product time-to-development and time-to-market precluding customer-supplier negotiations. Moreover, the qualities of a software supplier are often evident through their OSS works, which are open to the community for inspection.

– Reversed customer-supplier relationship: In corporate software projects, the customer dictates conditions to the supplier and has control over project requirements, deliverables and roadmap. In open source projects, even if these are sponsored by a commercial entity, the community is the one who owns the project, not the sponsor. It is the norm for the sponsor s corporate agenda to be in antithesis with the incentives of the community members; in these cases the community may take the project in a direction well beyond the control and the desire of the sponsor. As such, the customer-supplier relationship is reversed in open source projects. The community, which may be likened to the supplier, becomes the customer who must be appeased. Managing open source projects can be likened to walking on a tightrope, finely balancing the corporate agenda with community incentives. To win the community s heart, sponsors must dedicate efforts, creativity and resources to the community.

– Innovation: Innovation in the software industry is almost always driven top-down; market segmentation and customer requirements filter all the way down to floor-level product decisions. Open source software is completely different. Innovation is entirely anarchic and ad hoc, often resulting in genuinely fresh concepts and product usage scenarios.

– Andreas

[Want to learn more about open source and its impact on the mobile industry? Register for the pre-workshop ‘A Crash Course in Mobile Open Source: Economics, Licensing, Linux, Java and Beyond’ (see here for workshop agenda) delivered by VisionMobile as part of Informa’s Open Source In Mobile conference taking place in Madrid on 17-20 September. Next on this blog series: ‘Mobile Linux is not about free software’]

What on earth is open source ?

[Over the next two weeks leading to the Informa’s open source conference, I ‘ll be looking at five traits which characterise open source software and its impact in the mobile industry, ranging from community culture, to what open source means for mobile Linux, browsers and Java.]Open source software is one of the most hyped, misunderstood, feared and high impact phenomena in the software industry today. The success of Linux, from a pet project to Microsoft s arch-rival operating system has fostered hype for the success of the open source model. The unconventional business models where open source is employed, offer plenty of opportunity for misconceptions. Open source has also given rise to fear of IP contamination due to the copyleft properties of the GPL license. At the same time, open source software has created tidal waves within many facets of the PC and mobile industries, from operating systems to browsers.So what on earth is open source? A Google search produces more than 25 distinct definitions of open source, each one from a different perspective. In practice, there are three distinct contexts in which open source is used today:- Software that comes with an OSI-certified license.The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit organisation tasked with maintaining and promoting the definition of open source. The OSI defines 10 criteria for open source software, including that open source software must be freely distributable, access to source code and redistribution of modifications. Hundreds of open source-like licenses exist, of which the OSI has approved nearly 60. The vast majority of open source projects have been licensed under the GPL, the LGPL, the Mozilla Public License (MPL), the BSD License, the Apache Software License, and the MIT License.- A social movement for making source code freely available.For many, open source represents a social movement among software development communities. This movement supports that software should be freely available to anyone interested in using it, modifying it or redistributing it. Community-based development and viral distribution are important characteristics of this movement. The very term open source was coined to avoid misunderstandings arising from the earlier term free software .– Open source as a collaborative development methodology.From a business perspective, open source is a collaborative software development methodology whereby a community of entities and individuals (commercial, non-profit or entirely voluntary) develop software through a transparent, distributed peer review process. Open source development can pool community efforts towards development of a software base that is of common interest to all participating parties, while allowing differentiation through derivatives built upon this software base. In this sense, open source as a business model is the polar opposite to commercial forums, which foster collaboration through exclusive or paid-for membership. Yet in some cases open source development may be equally or more effective at achieving the same goal. An example of a successful open-source based collaborative software development effort is the Eclipse non-profit foundation which is backed by over 150 industry players, including heayvyweights Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Motorola, Nokia and Wind River Systems.Open source started in the early 90s as a social movement in favour of maintaining software freedom; the development of the Linux kernel as a free Unix alternative and the creation of the GPL license were the two defining milestones of that movement. Yet 15 years on, open source has evolved gradually and perhaps unexpectedly into one of of the most succesful methodologies for commercial, collaborative software development.- Andreas[Want to learn more about open source and its impact on the mobile industry? Register for the pre-workshop ‘A Crash Course in Mobile Open Source: Economics, Licensing, Linux, Java and Beyond’ (see here for workshop agenda) delivered by VisionMobile as part of Informa’s Open Source In Mobile conference taking place in Madrid on 17-20 September. Next on this blog series: how open source turns corporate software development on its head]