Open Source Mobile: Volantis goes Open Source, first thoughts

Volantis, the world’s leading supplier in the field of Mobile Content Adaptation, announced that they are going to release in open source a Volantis solution to deliver content to mobile users.

The Volantis Mobility Server – a solution enabling content providers and carriers to benefit from a ‘write once view anywhere’ content strategy – is already available for download at the community area. Open Source release, under the GPL version 3, is expected within the first quarter of 2008.

At the Future of Mobile I didn’t get a chance to meet in person people from Volantis, but yesterday I had a skype conversation with Mark Watson, co-founder and chief executive officer of Volantis Systems.

My first question to Mark was about why they are going open source.

It is difficult to write mobile applications without an application server like ours. Mobile web is not moving as fast as it should be, and Volantis by contributing with software to the market can help accelerate it.

Is Volantis expecting to get voluntary contributions from the community?

We would like that, we don’t want to necessarily depend on it. We don’t want to bet on that for our success.

While at the present stage there are no plans in place to cooperate with other open source communities, I believe that commensalistic approaches are likely to happen. Let’s wait and see if eventually the Volantis Community will develop a symbiotic approach towards open source communities, and viceversa.

As a matter of fact Volantis is the first mover in the mobile content delivery arena willing to publish its code under an open source license, and they spent time and effort to choose the appropriate license (Doug, you should also count them from now on!!).

While Volantis sounds internally organized to keep its mobile equipment database updated – and they might not run Code Sniper or Phone Sniper as does Funambol – I see other similarities with Funambol. Just as Funambol, Volantis today is basically addressing the “top” of the pyramid (the carriers), but by opening its platform, Volantis can substantially enlarge its customer base with a try&buy formula.

Last but really not the least, I believe that many small IT firms that couldn’t afford platforms like Volantis in the past can now step into this market. And maybe Mark is right in stating:

We believe that for every potential web application in the PC world, there is going to be a mobile equivalent.

My suggestion to Mark is the following: what about organising meet ups among IT firms interested in Volantis, just like the Atlassian Group?

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