Linux Coming to Your Mobile Phone Soon

Barry Levine,

Several leading mobile-device manufacturers announced Wednesday that they plan to form an alliance to develop and support a global version of Linux for mobile phones, PDAs, and other portable devices by the end of 2007.

Handset makers Samsung, Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, NEC, Panasonic, and Vodafone said they were creating an independent, not-for-profit group to spearhead the effort and share the costs.

The main operating systems for mobile devices include Microsoft Windows Mobile, Symbian, Palm, and BlackBerry. Linux, a popular open-source operating system, has a smaller share of the mobile market.

Strategy Defrag

To date, Linux initiatives for mobiles have been fragmented, with different variations that complicate development and support for both manufacturers and application developers.

As a free, open-source OS known for its stability, a standardized Linux for mobile devices could serve to reduce costs to manufacturers, create a stable platform for developers, and reduce reliance on proprietary OS providers, such as Microsoft.

The foundation's objectives include creating technical specifications for the OS architecture and application programming interfaces (APIs), and creating a reference design with premade programming tools.

Open-Source Media

The founding member companies also pledged to seek participation from other interested companies, including software developers and chipset manufacturers.

If this initiative bears fruit, consumers could see a flourishing Linux community for mobile devices, mirroring the one in the PC world.

"If open-source developers latch on to a unified mobile Linux," said Avi Greengart, an analyst with technology research firm Current Analysis, "then we could see rich media applications being offered for global devices by the open-source community."

Copyright 2006 NewsFactor Network, Inc.

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Barry Levine
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