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June 16, 2006

Yet another Linux mobile phone standards effort

Posted by David Hunter at 9:44 AM ET.

Last November, several vendors got together to form a group called the Linux Phone Standard (LiPS) Forum to help their use of Linux on mobile phones better compete with Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and Symbian’s offerings. Apparently, that wasn’t enough because another group of vendors have gotten together with similar intent – Operators plan to stuff Microsoft, Symbian with mobile Linux:

A powerful bunch of players in the mobile phone sector announced plans to build an open Linux-based operating system for mobile devices.

The group, made up of Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Samsung Electronics, and Vodafone, said it would form an independent foundation to promote the platform. In a statement today, the group said the foundation would “leverage the benefits of community-based and proprietary development”.

There’s more from Nancy Gohring at InfoWorld on the as yet unnamed group:

The creation of a common platform might help spur growth of Linux phones, a segment that has been hampered by fragmentation, said Tony Cripps, an analyst at Ovum. The Linux handsets on the market now use unique specifications, making it difficult for developers to create applications that can work across different devices, he said.

The lack of an open, common approach has also meant that Linux handsets haven’t been able to compete directly with leading mobile operating systems from Symbian or Microsoft, each of which nurtures an open application development ecosystem, he said.

The presence of operators like Vodafone and NTT DoCoMo that order large volumes of handsets is significant. If such a large and influential operator as Vodafone adopts a Linux handsets based on this platform, then other operators are likely to adopt the same or similar phones, Cripps said.

This will be the third mobile Linux group to launch within a year, joining the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum and the Mobile Linux Initiative (MLI). Like the new foundation launched on Friday, the LiPS Forum aims to focus on the creation of APIs to enable interoperability of applications across Linux handsets.

PalmSource Inc., France Telecom SA and Orange SA are among the leaders of LiPS. The MLI, with members that include Motorola and PalmSource, is working on unifying developments around the mobile Linux kernel.

While MLI isn’t involved in the new foundation, it is likely to work with the new organization in the future.

Three groups? I must have missed one.



Filed under Coopetition, Microsoft, Motorola, NTT, PalmSource, Samsung, Symbian, Vodafone, Windows Mobile

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