As mobile device variety is increasing, vendors such as Funambol believe that open standards are the best way forward for device manufacturers and carriers. And (un?)fortunately, RIM and Microsoft can't address the bulk of the market. At the O'Reilly Emerging Telephony Conference (eTel), Fabrizio Capobianco of Funambol states that the market disconnect is thus:
"Proprietary solutions have been developed and sold without the developer or consumer in mind. Developers want a transparent community of peers contributing to the code, making it better for developers to turn into differentiated products and services for their organizations and companies. Consumers want access to mobile email and applications, regardless of network type or device manufacture."
Funambol is the latest vendor to attack the problematic environment of mobile application development. Frankly, as a former maker of developer tools I believe that their environment is very well-done. They provide plug-ins that can be downloaded to mobile devices, as well as a server that processes SyncML and sends the message to the application developer's own back-end server.
BUT, is open source the panacea for mobile development? There's some truth to Capobianco's statement, but open source is
not the only solution to this problem. (Has anyone noticed how
pervasive email is, regardless of which OS you are using?) And the lovely development solution of Sync4J would be just as lovely if issued under a commercial license. Though undoubtedly, it would be a lot more expensive.