Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Smartphone's affinity for open source software

I had been preparing for a presentation on open source software, and I came up with an interesting find. Here's the 2011 market share of smartphone OS'es (numbers from TomiAhonen Almanac 2012), with call-outs indicating open source pedigree.

Open source use in smartphones (Source TomiAhonen 2012 Almanac)
Everyone knows that Android is an open eco-system, based on the GPL v2 Linux micro-kernel. The rest of the Android stack is also open source, licensed under the Apache license.

A bit of a surprise, isn't it? Even for a closed eco-system like Apple's the use of open source software is pretty widespread. The kernel of iOS & OSX is based on Darwin, another open source BSD licensed micro-kernel. Wikipedia has a good article on Darwin.
Besides the kernel, iOS also uses a variety of other open source components, for e.g. OpenGL ESIndependent JPEG Group's libjpeg, ANGLE (OpenGL to DirectX mapping), KISS FFT, json, among many others. If you don't believe me, check Settings->General->About->Legal on your iPhone!

Symbian was made open source under Eclipse Public License between 2009 and 2010. 

Although no confirmations yet, but there are rumors of Samsung combining Tizen (Meego) and Bada into one, and licensing it under an open source license.

So there you have it. Almost 82% of smartphones in 2011 run on an OS that has been linked with open source software. This does not prove that only open source based OS'es can succeed as smartphone platforms, but it does show remarkable affinity this industry has towards open source software!

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