Linux crashes the mobile party

Linux crashes the mobile party

Summary: Cutting costs by deploying Linux is a well-established strategy on the server and even the desktop, but what effect could it have on the cost of mobile computing?

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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...a shared implementation — as opposed to the LiPS Forum's desire to create a unified standard for mobile Linux — Motorola is arguably creating its own native implementation in MOTOMAGX.

"If you're Motorola, there is no huge incentive to be absolutely the same and consistent with other versions of Linux because you want to differentiate your products," says Gartner's Jones, who characterises the mobile Linux movement as "multiple groups of people with different motives heading towards targets that are moving". "Handset manufacturers want to have the cool device, and the role of the platform in differentiating your device has been demonstrated recently by Apple [with the iPhone]. There are obviously different tensions working along, and they are not all working towards convergence."

There even seems to be serious disagreement as to where MOTOMAGX comes from. According to Morgan Gillis, chief executive of the LiMo Foundation, the platform is "based upon LiMo Foundation technology and aligned with LiMo standards".

"The approach will be that the LiMo Foundation provides the base platform and some operators and some handset makers may choose to extend upon the LiMo platform," Gillis adds.

The LiPS Forum's Weinberg claims otherwise. "There are no standards to base it on," he says. "LiMo hasn't issued any documents, so it is hard to base a toolkit on it."

Weinberg characterises the difference between the LiPS Forum and LiMo Foundation thus: "What LiPS is doing is creating an open standard for the delivery of services and applications on Linux-based phones. The process, while open, is a fairly traditional standardisation process, with a body of members introducing requirements to specification. There will be a compliance regime emerging next year for that standards base. Implementation will probably arise initially from the LiPS membership, but there is also likely to be an open-source toolbox or even wholesale open-source implementation."

If you're Motorola, there is no huge incentive to be absolutely the same and consistent with other versions of Linux because you want to differentiate your products

Nick Jones, Gartner

Pointing out that the LiPS Forum has already released a set of APIs, Weinberg continues: "LiMo is a group of companies that have got together and decided to create an implementation, not a standard, based on de facto standardisation. They will share a code of implementation exclusively among themselves, and at most will share a documentation of a subset of APIs they have created."

But Gillis is confident that, when it arrives, the LiMo implementation will bear fruit. "The progress made thus far by the LiMo Foundation platform provides good evidence that it is a platform that is likely to be widely adopted within the mobile sector," he says. "That's based on the composition and commitment of the original founder group, and [the recently announced] new wave of members, including important new members such as LG. One expectation is that there will be further important membership announcements before the end of the year, and this will signal there is a very good probability of broad adoption."

"The two different groupings [LiPS and LiMo] saw the same need within the industry at more or less the same time and got started in slightly different ways. It is still very much in the early stages," continues Gillis, before suggesting that it would be "quite plausible for convergence to happen in the coming period".

"I have no specific timescale in mind, but the naturalness and logic of this is evident. Our aims and objectives are very similar, if not identical," Gillis adds, while denying that any discussions have taken place between the LiPS Forum and LiMo Foundation regarding a merger.

Weinberg told ZDNet.co.uk that the LiPS Forum would welcome...

Topic: Tech Industry

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.

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  • What happend to the Linux desktop?

    So looks like from this piece that Linux is going to make some serious inroads into mobile handsets - but it's still slow going for the open source OS when it comes to the desktop.

    But then I guess people haven't been conditioned to one proprietary OS on their phone in the same way as the desktop - user might be more open minded about the OS on their phone and use the best technology rather than simply following the herd.

    But then again most people probably buy a handset based on what it looks like rather than the underlying OS...
    Andrew Donoghue