Linux is now a mobile player

Summary:With Nokia now committed to Linux, other mobile players are nearly certain to follow

The headline was Linux Kernel May Use Our Patents but the real story was bigger.

Nokia, the biggest maker of mobile phones, was finally rolling out Linux product. (For a bigger picture than the one at right see the News.Com story.)

Is the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet any good? I don't know. Give me one for a few weeks and I'll let you know.

It may be that Nokia is going down the wrong road here. Like its competitors the company is trying to build multi-purpose devices. With apologies to Stephen Hawking, it's seeking a Grand Unified Mobile Device theory.

But maybe Mark Loewenstein is right. As he writes this week in his Mobile Ecosystem, maybe people prefer a bunch of simple devices -- a phone that's just a phone, an iPod that's just an iPod, a mobile data device that just does data. After all, lose a simple device and it's simple to get a replacement. Lose a complex device and getting a new one is complex.

Nokia has built its simple devices with the Symbian OS, which has had trouble scaling up to the complexity vendors are now demanding. But you can also make a very simple device with Linux -- you don't have to use all its capabilities -- and the Nokia 770 makes Linux, for the first time, a real mobile player.

With Nokia now committed to Linux, other mobile players are nearly certain to follow. This is going to get fun.

Topics: Microsoft


Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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