Greetings from OSiM USA
I arrived at San Francisco on Monday to attend the OSiM USA 2008. The first day was very interesting. I met partners and colleagues. I found many talks, such as the Access keynote by Kamada-san, and Bill Weinberg’s on communities very interesting.
I’ll give my keynote on Wednesday morning SFO time. Thanks Quim and Peter for helping me with it. Let me share the story with you right here.
What Mobile Users Need
We create mass market devices and services. This means that we must provide enjoyable quality devices and services that provide rich experiences. In order to do so, we need to tap into innovation and creativity. We must also manage our operations and cost by utilizing reusable assets, agile methods, and shared development. In all of this, the right use of open source can be a huge asset.
We at Nokia have invested a lot to learn. We participate in many open source activities, such as Gnome, Debian, Linux, Mozilla and WebKit browsers and so forth. We plan to increase our involvement there. We believe open source is a key strategy to create exciting devices and services.
Our role: Bring open source to mainstream consumer electronics
Our role as Nokia is to create a bridge between open source projects and consumers. We can provide integration, final devices and services, and help with distribution. We can also take care of such difficult things as warranty, legal, IPR, DRM, regulations, customer support, and so forth.
In my mind, our role and possibilities are clear. We can help end users and open source innovation to meet. I think we have a great role in helping my 70 something parents to communicate with their grandchildren over a VOIP client developed by a clever 20 something hacker.
We need to learn from each other. Both.
The theory is simple: We work together; the open source community and Nokia. We provide excellent devices and services to end users in large volumes with attractive terms. In addition to software and product development, we need great marketing, smooth distribution, and good manufacturing. We also need to support various business models that can deliver the devices and services to our customers. Excellent devices, available everywhere, with the right price. Simple….
…. not. It is not trivial to combine open source and corporate to benefit end users. We all need to learn.
We at Nokia are working hard to get it. We have to. We need to get better in communicating our strategies and plans. We need to be more open and get even more involved in various projects and communities. We must be better at articulating our views, providing information and code back, and supporting the community. We must be sure we support freedom and openness and do not try to limit anybody’s work. But at the same time, we must be better at telling what is OK for us and what is not.
And the open source community also has to get it. The community needs to understand the business realities; possibilities and restrictions. It needs to learn the business models and rules in order to participate. If a project or a developer wants to ensure the success and max usage of her code, she must understand the functional and quality requirements, license the work under a proper license, and make sure her work doesn’t restrict business models needed.
It is actually brutal out there. Customers are very demanding and they do not accept anything but the best. Also, partners and other players want their share and support for their business model. It is not OK to steal music or crack and resell a subsidized phone. As an open source developer this makes me think: the majority of the most interesting and successful mobile devices and software –excluding Internet Tablets, of course— are clearly not based a large use of open source, or developed in open source manner. So we all have some learning to do here.
Building upstream. Community rules.
We see Open Source upstream projects as a base of our industry platform for Linux-based devices. Upstream is where the thing really happens. Alignment with upstream. Share plans. No forks. Contributions back. Ignore upstream and you loose!
We select the best software components that make sense in our architecture. If we select an open source component is because we think it's the best. This also means that the team that developed it is the best. Then we intend to align our work to their processes. This is not always easy because we have internal processes and requirements, but we are working on it. In fact any big organization has things to learn from open source development practices, even applied to internal and private processes: agile, decentralized, documented, peer reviewed... and the very human aspects of it.
As an example, I’m very thrilled about the discussion with Trolltech. Trolltech knows about upstream leadership and community rules. Working with this brilliant team together with Nokia is an opportunity no open source enthusiast should ignore.
Beyond code and licenses: developers and projects.
Source code and its licenses are critical in the use of open source for a company like Nokia. But code is just an output -- the top of an iceberg. It is the people, developers and contributors, the projects, the organizations, the users involved that truly matter. These are what really make open source unique, good today and even better tomorrow.
Nokia can do a lot more to get really involved in the community and make a good contribution as well. We keep working on this. In my dreams I see Maemo (open source innovation) playing a useful and exciting role bridging OSS upstream products and regular owners of Nokia devices.
Until now we have decently supported the projects directly related to the source code we use: Linux, Debian, GNOME, Mozilla and so on. We are moving to a wider support to those really smart upstream projects. Help them pushing their vision forward, shaping their ideas into alphas, betas and final products. Help them getting visibility in the mobile industry and the Nokia channels.
For instance: why not helping Qt and its software ecosystem fitting in the GTK+ based Internet Tablets.
Diving in: deeper involvement
A few years ago, Nokia started from zero. In summer 2005 we announced the Nokia 770 internet tablet and started the journey.
Now, I claim we are a good open source citizen – we’ve got our feet in the water. We are shipping Linux and open source based Internet Tablets, our S60 phones have many important open source components, and we use a lot of open source technologies in building our new services. We participate projects, contribute a lot of code, sponsor GUADECs, Debconfs, buy services from hacker companies and projects and play our part pretty OK.
And next, we’ll start swimming and dive into the community. We want to help and influence the open source community to succeed with Nokia. We provide channels to markets. We work as community participant playing Nokia’s own role. We’ll educate and help the best we can. And we try to constantly learn more.
This all is actually very selfish. By doing so, we can provide better devices, services, and experiences to consumers – and make a buck or two.
Meeting open source community ethics
Life –even a corporate life -- is more rich and human that just “profit”. As long as I remember, Nokia always had values; statements that we used to direct our work and operations. Because Nokia is made of people, we want values to guide our behavior. And we’ve always wanted to make the values explicit.
Last year we felt we wanted to revisit and renew our values. The process was most interesting. We organized several big workshops – Nokia Cafes – with hundreds of participants all over the globe. These workshops discussed what is important for Nokia and how we as employees want to see Nokia and its values. The workshops then continued in various on-line activities and projects. Eventually, we came up with four new Nokia values: engaging you – passion for innovation – achieving together – very human
If you are part of the OSS community these value will sound very familiar to you. Also, the process of developing these values must sound familiar.
We are not that different after all, are we?