Nokia launches Open Source home entertainment project


Author: JT Smith

By Grant Gross

Mobile communications giant Nokia is jumping head first into Open Source development by launching a Web site to host home entertainment software projects based on open standards.This week Nokia, working with Open Source project-hosting company CollabNet, will launch the Web site where developers can come together to create a wide range of home entertainment software for Nokia’s Open Standards Terminal software platform, based on Linux, Xfree and Mozilla. The Nokia Open Source License is based on the Mozilla license.

The development at will be open to Nokia and its competitors alike. Nokia and CollabNet officials say their goal of a worldwide open standard for home entertainment architecture will benefit the industry as a whole.

Romulo Pinheiro, product marketing manager with Nokia Home Communications, says an open standard will allow companies to concentrate on making good home-entertainment products instead of building proprietary software.

“The proprietary business model is not advantageous to anyone,” Pinheiro says. “By using Open Source tools, we have an opportunity to have worldwide contributions from many developers. They will help set the standards.”

An Open Source development model for new home entertainment devices will jump start a stagnant industry, he adds. “We believe this is the only way to create standards, and at the end of the day, everyone is better off,” he says. “The end user has access to more diversity of applications and services, applications developers have a common platform with which they can work, and hardware manufacturers reduce costs because the technology is cheaper.”

Nokia will benefit from the development through hardware sales. This summer, the Finnish company plans to start selling its Nokia Media Terminal, an Internet/digital TV/video recorder/gaming device that runs on Linux, in Europe. The terminal will have USB connections to plug in other devices such as cameras.

Pinheiro says the OST platform is another way for developers to show the versatility of Linux. The project, says Linda Stone, senior marketing manager for strategic accounts at CollabNet, also gives developers the opportunity to work on a project that has nearly unlimited potential.

“This is a huge win for the developer community,” Stone says. “It provides a complete environment with the tools, the code, applications, and the support for collaborative software development for any hardware-independent home entertainment device. It provides the opportunity for developers to showcase their work in every home of the future.”

The OSTdev site will be launched at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles May 16 to 19. There, developers will be able to sign up and get the tools necessary to start developing.

Stone declined to say how many developers the project needs for it to be judged successul by Nokia and CollabNet, which has previously launched projects for Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Sun Microsystems. “It’s really about collaboration and about the development of applications and extending this platform,” she adds. “The more collaboration, the more projects, the more applications, the interest in utilizing this platform is to the benefit of Nokia.”

Pinheiro, asked about the failed attempt by Indrema to create a Linux-based gaming/Internet console, says Nokia is in this project for the long haul.

“This is an emerging industry, and when you are the first one, you have to make sure you have enough resources … until you see results,” he says. “We are not expecting results in the short, short run. You have to be patient because people have to see the power of this tool. We are committed, and we have the resources.”