Volantis, a specialist in making the same content work on every mobile phone, is open sourcing its server, allowing anyone to download and run their content-optimising system for free.
The Mobility Server: Community Edition is initially available as a free binary, with source code to follow next year under the GPL. It's the same package used by Volantis customers around the world to modify content to suit the connecting device.
It should be possible, using the server, to create mobile applications which look comparable on different devices and even allow for bugs or inconsistencies in different versions of the same device. The UK-based firm's database currently contains details of around 4,500 devices, with 650 attributes stored for each device.
That database is central to the server functionality and, while users of the "Community Edition" will initially get an up-to-date version, any changes won't be reflected until a new Community Edition is made available - expected to be a few times a year. Paying customers get a daily update to ensure the very latest bugs and handset versions are supported.
The idea is to stimulate more applications, ideally reliant on the Volantis software, and the company holds patents which could (in theory) prevent anyone just taking their software and running a competitive operation.
Without the database updates it's hard to see any commercial operation depending on the Community Edition, but it might make sense for small-scale applications and for developers wanting to test their ideas. So giving away the software itself seems low-risk.
Sharing the source code under the GPL could be slightly more risky as it's hard to predict how the open source community will react, or indeed if they will react at all, once the software is open to scrutiny. ®