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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

NewsFactor Network | Linux-Based Android and LiMo Dominate Phone Show

NewsFactor Network | Linux-Based Android and LiMo Dominate Phone Show: "Linux-Based Android and LiMo Dominate Phone Show Linux-Based Android and LiMo Dominate Phone Show| By Barry Levine | February 12, 2008 2:26PM.

Helge: The Finnish perspective is very Nokia centric. People go to exhibitions with very different mindsets. I guess the Swedish press is writing all about Sony Ericsson's point of view.

Linux originates from Finland. Hmmm, I didn't mean to be nationalistic. We just don't have too many internationally known companies and that's why it comes natural to tell about those who are big and well known names.

Attention at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona has focused on Linux-based mobile platforms, including Google's Android and LiMo. NEC promised to show the first LiMo mobile handset, and other vendors will also display products. But despite the publicity for LiMo, Android has a big advantage -- the Google name.

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Open-source Linux is coming of age for mobile phones. While Google's Android platform has attracted attention at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain, so has LiMo, another Linux-based platform.

NEC Corporation announced Monday that it will show what it described as 'the first LiMo-compliant handsets' for the global market.

Morgan Gillis, executive director of the LiMo Foundation, said that, within a year, 'LiMo has secured powerful industry engagement, announced the on-schedule availability of the LiMo platform," and the first generation of handsets are appearing.

NTT DoCoMo, Motorola, Others

NTT DoCoMo also showed four LiMo handsets for the Japanese market. One of them, the FOMA N905i, features 3G/GSM international roaming, HSDPA, mobile TV, GPS location tracking, and credit payment services.

The Barcelona show is a big coming-out party for the LiMo Foundation, which describes itself as a "consortium of mobile-industry leaders" working to develop "an open and globally consistent handset software platform based on Mobile Linux." It was founded in January 2007 by Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Samsung Electronics, and Vodafone. LG is not officially a member, but it has shown a LiMo prototype. On Monday, telecommunications companies Orange and ACCESS said they would join.

Other handset makers are showing LiMo devices. Motorola has announced a Motorokr and Razr2, and Purple Labs, a supplier of embedded Linux solutions for mobile devices, announced an under-$100 LiMo feature phone. At least 18 LiMo-based handsets have been announced, including from Panasonic and Samsung.

The first release of the LiMo operating system is scheduled for March, and a software development kit is scheduled for the second half of this year.

The Google Name Advantage

Several LiMo backers also support Google's Open Handset Alliance (OHA) -- Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, and Samsung. In all, 34 companies back OHA, which was first announced in November. Texas Instruments, ARM Holdings, Qualcomm, NEC, Marvell, ST Microelectronics and others are showing or have announced Android prototypes. Deutsche Telecom's T-Mobile, HTC and others have said they expect to sell Android-based phones this year.

LiMo has "been in this game" longer than Android, giving its supporters more time to develop handsets, said IDC analyst Chris Hazelton. But he added that virtually no one will buy a mobile device simply because it is based on Linux.

The key competitive advantages will be, as always, price and features, but Android has an ace -- the Google name. Hazelton predicted that the first Android phones on the market, even if they are not literally branded "Google phones," will be known for their Google lineage. "One way or another," he said, these phones will be associated with the Google name.

Helge: I've written about the Google Phone in my Finnish language blogs. It takes time before the GP is out on the market. What new did Apple iPhone present? My understanding is that the mobile phone content race is still an emerging market. There has been much more talk about future networks in Barcelona.

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