Linux up to speed on mobile devices

Open source operating system breaks through another barrier

Linux, which has been much maligned by Symbian and Microsoft as a non-starter in the handset operating system market, is set to see strong growth as issues with framework fragmentation and silicon requirements are alleviated.

The growing momentum behind the LiMo Foundation initiative, as well as the marketing boost that has been realised from the entry of Google's Android solution, has been further enhanced by Nokia's support of the Maemo solution and its purchase of Trolltech.

ABI Research analysts believe that by 2013, almost one out of every five mid- or high-end mobile devices will use a Linux operating system.

"Clever choice of public licence support, along with software engineering that isolates proprietary items from open source items, allows operating system vendors to generate revenue from a very cost-effective OS solution," said ABI Research vice president Stuart Carlaw.

"Linux OS solutions will be far more cost-effective than incumbent solutions, even when silicon requirements are taken into account, given that a fuller application layer will be included in the standard package and that the burden of customisation falls mostly on the independent software vendor," Carlaw added.

A recent ABI Research study found that Linux solutions will be at the centre of the drive to bring more content-rich environments to users who currently utilise mid-tier devices.

More importantly, it looks increasingly likely that mobile Linux solutions will be an important building block in enabling an application domain that embraces Web-based applications and blended Web/native applications.

Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report.

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