by Steve Shine

3D TV, Android, In-flight internet, Tablet PCs. The future is not so far away anymore

Jan 31, 2010
IT Leadership

I write and send this message from a plane travelling to San Francisco on United Airlines using in-flight internet access. Getting on-line was ridiculously easy, the connection was actually pretty good and the charge for five hours connectivity is $13; cheaper than many hotels. I even made a Skype call to my family at home (although that was probably pushing the bandwidth somewhat).

I know this service has been around for a while but it was the first time I had used it and was impressed. The plane was packed; it seemed to me that almost everyone was online. Less than a year ago this was almost unheard of. Now it is becoming the norm.

Last week was the 2010 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas where tech vendors showcased their latest gadgets and services. This included 3D TV, tablet PCs and a plethora of other ideas. What struck me was how fast these technologies are now being applied in practical ways. In the past, technology prototypes were demonstrated but very often never made it into production as they were never quite “consumer grade”. Today we see innovative new phones and internet ready TVs released with such frequency that it is hard to keep up.

Most of these new offerings have one common element, Open Source software.  This has enabled such rapid speed to market.

The vast majority of the solutions at CES have embedded Open Source software. Three Open Source Software features drive this trend: • Cost; if you can lower the cost of manufacture, you have a more competitive offering. • The simplicity of Open Source software legal contracts and terms of use. Most organisations now fully understand how to properly integrate Open Source software into their offerings and can bypass long and tortuous negotiations with proprietary software vendors. • Finally the sheer scale and pace of innovative contribution that is harnessed through the Open Source community.

Remember, it was only a few years ago that consumer technology vendors were terrified of using Open Source in their offerings. Today, if you don’t, you lose.

It is when you take a step back and look at this progress, overlaying it onto the almost pedestrian adoption of Open Source in large enterprises and Government that you can see the inevitable future.  Just as Android has overtaken almost all other phone operating systems, allowing new leaders to appear in the phone market, so we will see CIOs driving change in their own businesses by adopting Open Source methodologies.