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Proposed Platforms

By a process of elimination, the platforms that need to be assessed in greater details, in no particular order are.

  • Windows 7 Desktop
  • Mac (desktop)
  • Android
  • Linux (Debian) distribution
  • MeeGo

Each of these platforms will be compared against the evaluation criteria described above.

Device Penetration

Note these high, medium, low and none figures below are given as relative measures for the current size of the market, and are qualitative indications only. Our conclusion is that Windows 7 is the widest penetrated platform in the PC space, while Android is the widest penetrated platform in the mobile space. Other than that, all other platforms are partially available across the 5 screens that we consider in the table below.

  PC Tablet Mobile Automotive TV
Windows 7 high low low low low
Mac medium none none none low
Android low medium high low low
Linux low low low low low
MeeGo none none low none none

Quantitative estimates of market figures have been be gleaned from the following source materials

Strategic view on platform future
Windows 7 Windows has been the dominant operation system for 20+ years. Even on the most pessimistic trajectory, Windows will be a significant player for many years. Investment in a Win7 webinos stack is well justified
Mac Mac has been going from strength to strength. Not only in PC and laptop penetration, but its derivative mobile and TV instance needs to be monitored carefully
Android Android on phones has been going through phenomenal growth over the past year. Tablets TV, PCs and In-car variants are strongly rumoured
Linux Linux has still not broken through into the consumer market, being largely the preserve of server and techno-uber geeks. However, the consumer centric offerings are improving considerably, and the no PC ecosystems are crying out for a strong competitor to Android and iOS
MeeGo MeeGo can be characterised as a Mobile pruned Linux distribution. The recent Nokia announcements have been unfortunate and have weakened its position considerably. And it has yet to prove itself as a consumer platform with traction. There are strong (but non-provable) rumours that there will be some significant industry movement on these platforms in the next few months

Our conclusion is that, besides MeeGo whose future is uncertain, all other platforms have an expected longevity that makes them suitable for use in the webinos implementation.

Cross vertical porting

All of these platforms give a strong cross device coverage, which can be summarised in the table below:

  PC Tablet Mobile Automotive TV
Windows 7 yes yes portable portable yes
Mac yes variant variant no no
Android emerging yes yes yes variant
Linux yes variant variant variant variant
MeeGo yes yes yes yes yes

 

Reviewing the platform coverage of each in detail:

 

Windows 7: Windows 7 is strongly positioned for PC, Tablet and TV (using is Windows Media Centre product). The current mobile proposition, Windows Mobile 7 has been discounted as a priority in the analysis above. However, despite the significant technical differences between desktop and mobile, we can be encouraged by the fact that it comes from the same family of technologies and therefore porting should be possible either at a later date, or by a new consortium partner. A similar argument can be extended to the Windows Embedded. The Windows automotive embedded platform has been de-prioritised as above, but if we develop core desktop assets, motivated parties will be able to reuse and re purpose these assets for this platform at a later date.

Mac: Mac as webinos platform, is deemed very important, primarily because it is the development environment of choice for web developers. As a PC platform, it is therefore essential. As described above the mobile iOS platforms and AppleTV are not priority port considerations, due to commercial limitations on distributions. But the fact that these technologies come from the same technology base (as above) means that if PC Mac is in scope, the effort and cost of porting the Apple flavours or mobile, tablet and TV technologies should be significantly reduced.

Android: is deemed mandatory for its mobile and tablet impact. Although not significantly impacting the market yet, we can presume that TV and in car implementations will make rapid inroads into the market.

Linux: Linux distributions come in many flavours, tweaked to different device types and indeed vertical applications. Developed binaries are not always portable between different Linux distributions, however, proficient Linux developers should be able to port between them relatively easily. Linux, whilst not particularly impressive in terms of absolute numbers in any one of the categories, has a strong technical presence in each of the device types in which we are interested.

MeeGo: MeeGo claims to have a discrete (but highly portable) distribution for each of the device types that we have in scope. Current sentiment is that not all of these platform distributions are product ready

Freedom to implement

Windows 7: unlike Windows mobile 7, even though it is closed source, it is technically highly extensible, with very few ecosystem controls built into the OS. Mac: similar to Windows, in sharp contrast to the mobile variant (iOS) the Mac is open for the technical extensions, and there are no overt Apple control points. Android: of all the above, Android is the most tightly controlled. The marketplace constraints and the exposed APIs can be limiting. Linux: Totally open platform with no ecosystem controls. Technically fully extensible with open source code accessible. MeeGo: based largely on Linux code base, therefore flexible. The MeeGo security scheme implies that ecosystem controls could be introduced, but this is assessed on a device by device basis and does not reflect on the platform itself.

Our conclusion is that most platforms are open with the exception of Android where there are tight marketplace constraints and technical API limitations in place.

Probability (and need) of core platform absorption

Windows, Mac and Android, being all controlled by singular commercial actors in the market, are very difficult to influence. For a third party to get core code changes accepted into the stack is almost impossible

MeeGo and Linux by contrast as genuine open source initiatives, are in principle open to 3rd party contributions. Indeed their long term survival, to some extent, depends on it.

The good news is, as shall be discussed in greater depth in the technical section, the current proposed architecture, does not assume that significant core platform changes are required on the host operating system to port webinos

Consortium member sentiment

In order to provide a more pragmatic view but also in order to capture the real market sentiment webinos has performed an independent survey across the industry (Operators and Manufacturers) partners. Detailed results of this survey can be found in Section 4: Industry partners viewpoint. Here follows an overview of the captured answers to provide a better context within the discussion and justification of the chosen shortlisted platforms.

Partner/Domain PC Mobile Home media Automotive
Samsung (minimum) Windows & Linux Android Linux based -
Telecom Italia - Android or native Linux - -
Telefónica - Android or native Linux - -
DT Windows Android - -
BMW - - - MeeGo IVI
SEMC - Android - -
Technical effort, capabilities and dependencies:

In order to assess the technical effort to port the webinos framework to the host operating system, we need to first consider the technical architecture.

Based upon the architectural work from WP-3 a set of proposals for implementation technology has been superimposed onto the implementation architecture

This information is to be found in the appendix of this document.