Monday, February 09, 2009

Operating System Wars are Back...this Time on Mobile Phones

I'm very excited about the promise of highly mobile, inexpensive phone devices as learning tools. Incredible learning applications like the gFlash flash card application and the Stanza eBook reader seem to appear at the iTunes app store on a daily basis. But here is my hang up...if members of a learning community build up a collection of flash cards with gFlash and publish them, those flash cards are only viewable by folks who have an iPhone or iPod touch. The flash cards created via gFlash aren't even available to view via a desktop or laptop computer. As a teacher, I would like the educational content that I post for my learners to be accessible via a variety of platforms and devices (wouldn't it seem odd, for example, if I created a review game that could only be viewable on a computer running windows xp??)

Now throw in the mobile devices of other members of the learning community - these devices might run different operating systems such as Google's Android, the Blackberry OS, or Windows Mobile. To my knowledge, there is very little interoperability of applications amongst these devices. From what I can gather, iPhone application developers are not necessarily making their applications available in the Android Market/Store, for example.

Perhaps it is a pipe dream, but I believe these applications should be developed with standards that allow them to be easily purchased and installed on a variety of devices. Until this happens, I think we're going to be back where we were at in the 90s with applications that only ran on specific operating systems.

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