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What behaviour in the mobile operating system market could be described as anticompetitive?

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tsr_timmy

New member
Sep 25, 2021
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I am a retired programmer with too much time on my hands; as such, I wrote a complaint to a regulatory body about how I can't install the operating system I want on my device because it will render it unusable (if I can't call for help on a phone because of drivers, what good is it?). I received a response requesting an interview with an officer who specializes in anticompetition cases and I would like to make sure I have my eggs all in one basket.

The current mobile phone market I liken to the desktop OS market of the 90s, where you had companies like Xerox, Microsoft, IBM, and so on; in the 90s, there were antitrust lawsuits where a particular company was accused of intentionally creating barriers to customers seeking to install software by other companies on personal computers. Obviously, that was settled in the 2000s, but IMO it did appear to make a positive change even if we are still fighting against IE. This may not be relevant, but that's what my mind went to when I realized I couldn't uninstall the Play Store.

Nobody uses "cellular telephones" as telephones anymore; instead, they are mobile computers. Computers in the 80s/90s had plenty of OS options (you may recall using OS/2 or BSD), but you can't do that with mobile computers... is that a good thing?

In my retirement, I'd like to develop and build a mobile phone operating system that is not android (nor lineageOS); this would either be Linux or BSD-based with a simple package manager, but the user would have the option to compile their own software also. This would ideally *not* hinder the underlying function of the device (i.e. telephony), but I don't see how manufacturers could be compelled to provide binary drivers. The current mobile market makes it obviously a very high barrier to entry for any who want to develop new operating systems for mobile computers. Is this anticompetitive? Perhaps not, but I'd like to hear some opinions and if you would kindly point me towards some resources I would appreciate it.
 

jwoegerbauer

Senior Member
Jul 11, 2009
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IMO the OS is not the problem - a command line based OS can be written by any talented student nowadays - preferably in C++, yes there are enough templates on the Internet, it is the device drivers what have to fit the hardware that make the whole thing difficult. I know that some OEMs put their device drivers' source code to the public.
 

tsr_timmy

New member
Sep 25, 2021
2
0
IMO the OS is not the problem - a command line based OS can be written by any talented student nowadays - preferably in C++, yes there are enough templates on the Internet, it is the device drivers what have to fit the hardware that make the whole thing difficult. I know that some OEMs put their device drivers' source code to the public.
To install a new OS on a phone, the phone must first be booted into a bootloader such that the 'image' of the OS can be loaded. The image for the OS should be built with the drivers present such that when booting, the OS kernel can load the relevant drivers as it probes the hardware in the phone, and then the software installed on the user layer can access that hardware through the relevant system calls. How possible is it for the bootloader to load a custom OS in the general sense? The majority of instructions I find are on enthusiast/developer websites with the actual manufacturers giving basically no input (that is to say, I haven't seen on manufacturer's websites or instruction manuals where they give instructions for booting your choice of OS).

Would it be fair to say that mobile developers, like Google/Samsung/LG/Amazon/etc are restricting users from being able to install their own OS on their device? Is driver access a reasonable thing to ask for?

Again, I'm retired, so I have time on my hands, but I'm old and there's realistically not a lot of that time left. I don't want to try developing my own BSD-based mobile OS if there's no way for me to install it on my own devices; that effort could go into another project if it is otherwise wasted. I suppose it is worth asking whether I should bother returning the bureau's request for an interview.