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June 16, 2006

Mobile Linux takes on Windows Mobile

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 11:31 AM

With all the other news going on Thursday, it was hard to get this little piece of information out, but it is relevant nonetheless.

Yesterday, Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic, Samsung and Vodafone announced that they are establishing a global foundation focused developing a Linux-based software platform for mobile devices.

The aim of the group is to create a platform that has lower development costs, increased flexibility, and an ecosystem of developers. The founding companies want to develop the platform based on the contributions from all interested parties.

The new platform will be used to compete against other operating systems for the mobile phone that can support high-end applications such as video, Web browsing and games. The two top operating systems are Symbian, which is built by a London-based company and used by Nokia, the largest handset manufacturer in the world, and Windows Mobile, built by Microsoft.

David Wood, Symbian's executive vice president of research, said he didn't consider the initiative a threat. Currently, so-called smartphones which use the higher-end operating systems, make up a very small portion of the overall handset market.

By another operating system entering the fold, it could increase opportunities for all the big players.

"If I follow the spirit of cooperation-before-competing concept, which Symbian follows, Linux may tilt the balance away from simplier feature phones to more advanced phones that can do more. These phones are going to grow the pie larger to stimulate the market for more advanced phones," Wood said.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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