Nokia has announced that it has launched a Web site, ostdev.net, where software developers can use the open source model to collaborate on the creation of software for its upcoming Media Terminal home entertainment system.
The Media Terminal, which is expected to compete with Microsoft's Xbox video game console when both are launched later in the year, will run on what Nokia calls the Open Standards Terminal (OST) platform, based on Linux, Xfree86 and Mozilla, the company said in a statement.
The device is being designed to combine the Internet with digital broadcasting to give consumers a single place for organizing and storing their media, and will be Nokia's first OST-based product, the company said.
Nokia plans to start shipping the terminal in Sweden by the third quarter and then in Germany and the UK shortly after. The media box could make it to the US by the year's end, according to Rickard Nelgér, head of product management for Nokia's home communications division.
Nokia is using its new ostdev.net Web site to reach out to the open source community for developing applications for the Media Terminal. With that intention, the Finnish company is working with US-based open-source software development company CollabNet, Nokia said.
CollabNet, which is also working with Sun Microsystems on its peer-to-peer project, Jxta, will manage collaboration with the open source community on applications for OST and the Media Terminal, as well as provide tools for open-source development such as bug tracking services, collaboration aids and logs to monitor the software's development, Nokia said.
Nokia plans to use software as a link between the Internet, television, digital video and other media functions. Users could, for example, pull pictures off of their digital camera and load them onto a television, add sound from their MP3 player and create a family slide show all via open software protocols.
As many companies including Microsoft and Motorola have shown interest in developing media terminals, Nokia officials fear early growth in the market could be stunted by a lack of interoperability between the various systems. With each vendor keeping its system closed, Nokia decided that consumers might be frustrated by being forced to choose one platform over another and limiting themselves to that platform's applications.
By making its platform open source, Nokia could let developers work with the same code base and make sure their applications all work on the Nokia platform. The company even hopes to attract some of its competition to the new Web site.
"We would rather have a fairly large part of a huge market, than a huge part of a small market," Nelgér said.
Microsoft recently criticized the open source model, saying that opening code threatens companies' intellectual property and gives them less incentive to innovate. While CollabNet doesn't claim that the open source model works in every case, it says its model drives development and innovation in many instances.
"Nokia is demonstrating that for some applications, open source is the right thing for the business," said Bernie Mills, vice president of marketing at CollabNet. "They are indicating that even though you are seeing some questions around certain Linux companies, open source as a business model is alive and well."
Nokia will demonstrate the Media Terminal and ostdev.net this week at the E3 exhibition in Los Angeles, from May 16 through May 19, the company said.