The iPhone has been plagued by third party developer complaints, many of whom say that with the prolification of free (read: gratis, not open source) and 99-cent applications for it, higher value and more expensive applications are not selling that much. This state of affairs is partly due to the smaller catchment of iPhone developers, thus raising the cost of hiring them and resulting in higher priced applications.
Moving to an open source platform like Linux however would increase the pool of available developers, and serve to drive down these costs, which hopefully will lead to better lower priced third party applications.
Will Apple however ever open source the platform ? Let's not forget that this is a company which even refused to open up its hardware architecture in the 1980s, losing big time to the IBM PC and its clones over the next decade. They've since learnt their lesson by opening up their platform APIs, but have stopped short of open sourcing their code, though the excellent Mac OS X is based in the open source BSD operating system.
Or better yet, why not collaborate with Google and get Android running on the iPhone. That would be a Windows Mobile killer now, wouldn't it ? Early reviews of the Android powered HTC phones are showing promise that it can give the Apple product a strong run for its money, and with Google already open sourcing Android, third party applications will not be a problem. Will we see an exodus of iPhone developers to the Google-driven platform instead ?
After all, with Google's plans in this area, an Android app will have a wider market than handhelds and mobiles, for it could even run on the desktop with Google unveiling their capability to run x86 native code within the browser container.
That thought will make a lot of people drool, open source advocates and the consumer. Nokia's move to open source Symbian is perhaps a maneouvre to head this threat off at the pass, but they too would be well advised to start collaborating on this venture.
Enough brains working on this will lead us to move away from the traditional keypad/keyboard paradigm of communicating with the device. The touch screen interface has been a long time coming, and it takes a new approach to user interface design to make it usable and friendly enough for a lot of people.
And that, my friends, will change how we even use our desktops when it becomes ubiquitous.