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Thursday, June 15, 2006

IMS Devices - Linux Platform the solution?

Continuing, serendipitously, on from the previous post today, Vodafone sent out a press release a few minutes ago called: "Mobile industry leaders to create world's first globally adopted open mobile Linux platform". I asked Dean Bubley, speaker at our www.imsservicesforum.com, to comment (below the link to the announcement):

"15 June 2006 - Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Samsung Electronics, and Vodafone announced today their intent to establish the world's first global, open Linux-based software platform for mobile devices. [Rest of announcement here:
http://www.vodafone.com/article_with_thumbnail/0,3038,OPCO%253D40000%2526CATEGORY_ID%253D205%2526MT_ID%253Dpr%2526LANGUAGE_ID%253D0%2526CONTENT_ID%253D282953,00.html]"

Dean says:

- handset Linux ain't free... or cheap, or easy. The "free" bit is the kernel, but there's about 500 other bits of software that need to work on top of it & therefore probably about $5-10+ worth of amortised integration work. Hence the role of companies like MontaVista and (perhaps more critically) Trolltech. Moto is rumoured to have spent $300m+ trying to get its Linux implementation to work (at 8m handsets = $35+ per device), and DoCoMo/Panasonic/NEC probably much the same.

- to my mind this is "necessary but not sufficient". It partly addresses one of the key weaknesses of mobile Linux - the fact that it's already become horribly fragmented. There's the Moto version, the DoCoMo version, Samsung's got one, and there are assorted other distributions from Wind River & various of the handset chipset companies. There's also a total lack of standardisation on the application framework & associated things like telephony integration, security etc, critical for 3d party developers & operators to give their support. It's no coincidence that Linux has only made headway in China (where operators don't define handset software at all) and Japan (where DoCoMo goes to the other extreme & designs it all in-house)

- There have already been a bunch of other mobile Linux standardisation efforts (CELP, LiPS etc) & they haven't got much further than talking-shop stage.

We're in contact with Vodafone and Samsung about also speaking at the event. More to follow...

The Editor, IMS Insider
www.ims-insider.com

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