Thoughts on N900 (1): Mobile Computing

by kiawin

Let’s look at the differences between iPhone OS, Symbian, Android and Maemo from the aspect of mobile computing.

iPhone OS is a stripdown version of OSX with underlying BSD architecture. It is optimised to be a single tasking machine. Hence it has the benefit of *nix blood but behave like an infant if we compare single tasking vs. multitasking machine.

Symbian from day 1 has been designed/developed as a mobile platform. Hence it will not be easy to transform it to a mini computer platform. Frustration from N97 and various E series users are in fact caused by the over expectation of this platform – to behave like a mobile computer instead of a (smart) mobile phone.

Android is a stripdown version of linux with the right intention to create an open mobile platform but with minimal emphasis as mobile computer. Hence you can see the direction of android that focuses more on selective mobile platform eg. phone, ebook reader, media player etc., but not a full featured mobile computer.

Maemo instead went in a different direction. Though it was an initiative to develop a mobile platform which many says was created to replace the ailing Symbian platform, it shares a different philosophy of how mobile computing should be. Ever since the first released OS2005, maemo has been strongly supported by open source community in developing an Internet tablet. Instead of stripping OS features to fit into a mobile platform, maemo creates a mobile platform that is similar if not same with desktop computing. One best example would be its native web browser that runs just like an ordinary desktop web browser, which is a first in mobile computing. Many of its application are recompiled from debian based architecture, where developer can easily port the application over with modification on UI to make it mobile-friendly.

I guess the above shows maemo has a different approach in defining what is mobile computing (and not) and that is the reason why I own a N900 – because i’ve been wanting so long to have a mobile computer that is comparable with its desktop counterpart. Maemo did it.

iPhone OS, Symbian, Windows Mobile did not.

This thought was minimally edited and first published in Forum, via N900.