It was recently announced that Red Hat is to acquire Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) FeedHenry. FeedHenry is a small company founded in 2010 that took Series A funding of $9m just last year (2013). Despite being small it has attracted some big name customers such as Diageo, Network Rail and VMWare (who are also an investor).

The MEAP market is a busy one with vendors both large and small, ranging from the 65 person FeedHenry to the giant IBM. What all of them have struggled with is attracting customers, especially the enterprise, whom seem wary of such platforms. To achieve what it has in 4 years therefore says something of note about FeedHenry’s product and team.

What is more interesting about this news is the involvement of Red Hat. Red Hat is most well-known for its enterprise version of the Linux operating system. However, through JBoss it also has a stake in the middleware market. It is here that Red Hat sees FeedHenry playing a part as a Mobile Platform-as-a-Service (MPaaS) solution, thereby providing a natural extension to the company’s middleware offering.

Linux vendors appear to be struggling in the mobile world. When you consider what Google has achieved with Android (a Linux derivative) in multiple markets over a very short period of time then the traditional Linux suppliers should be somewhat embarrassed. Vendors like Red Hat should be looking to drive innovation instead of playing catch-up. Just look at how long after Android emerged Ubuntu released their mobile OS, which has failed to set the mobile world alight. They tend to do better in environments where stability is the most preferred feature such as servers and embedded systems. However they cannot rely on these markets forever as even there we’re seeing change coming.

Looking ahead there is no chance of the pace of technology change slowing down. Instead many are already talking about Internet of Things (IoT). With IoT being initially driven out of the embedded systems space where Linux is strong it should give vendors a second bite at the cherry. Hopefully they will prove more responsive, agile and innovative this time around.