Cheap 3G mobile Linux handset unveiled

Cheap 3G mobile Linux handset unveiled

Summary: The 'Purple Magic' reference handset from NXP and Purple Labs promises to bring affordable 3G mobile Linux technology to the mass market

SHARE:
TOPICS: Networking
3

A mobile Linux-based 3G phone has been developed that could be made available to operators for less than $100.

The result of collaboration between NXP Semiconductors and Purple Labs — a mobile Linux development company with a focus on mass-market devices — the Purple Magic handset is a "reference design", meaning it can be tweaked by manufacturers to include or exclude various 3G features. Some markets may, for example, not want videocall functionality.

"During the recent holiday period, mobile operators were purchasing entry-level 3G phones for $120 (£60) to $145 (£73)," said Simon Wilkinson, chief executive of Purple Labs, on Thursday. "[Using] our Linux technology, the Purple Magic design now enables manufacturers to deliver compelling 3G products at a [wholesale] price below $100 [£50]."

In a statement released on Thursday, NXP and Purple Labs suggested that the target market for the handset would be in areas such as South-east Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Jean-Marie Andre, the head of corporate development at Purple Labs, told ZDNet.co.uk on Thursday that the 3G industry was currently hamstrung by the fact that there are "only a few players [who enjoy] a monopolistic situation".

"We don't see the same momentum in the 3G business as in 2G," said Andre. "I believe operators are keen to see the 2G approach transferred into the 3G business. Operators are very interested in the price side of things."

3G technology is seen as particularly important in the developing world because wired internet infrastructure there tends to be sparse, making the wireless approach more cost-efficient and practical for most consumers.

The Purple Magic handset is far from the first handset to target the developing world — last year LG won the GSM Association's "3G for all" contest with its similarly priced LG-KU250 device — but it could mark a significant development for the mobile Linux industry.

"The Purple Magic reference phone clearly demonstrates our combined leadership in the mobile Linux arena," said Wilkinson. "While the mobile Linux industry has largely concentrated on high-end devices, the Purple Magic is the first 3G Linux mass-market reference feature phone available today."

Both NXP and Purple Labs are part of the LiMo Foundation — an industry organisation dedicated to creating a common platform for mobile Linux devices — but it is not yet clear as to whether the Purple Magic handset's specifications will comply with the foundation's nascent platform.

Purple Magic handset
The Purple Magic handset could help spread the mobile internet in the developing world
 
 

Topic: Networking

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

3 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Linux Phone

    Anything has to be better than windows mobile
    Badger-fd80c
  • Cheap 3G mobile Linux

    Probably going to see a lot more of Linux in mobile devices, as it is leaner, meaner, cheaper, and faster than most of the competitors.
    ator1940
  • 3G Linux/Windows?

    Oh! You old cynic Badger! 'Spose you're right really!
    1000044543