Motorola: Let's standardize Linux, Java

Creating an open-source environment for developers will provide a catalyst for next-gen mobile adoption, says a top executive from the phone maker.
Written by Jeanne Lim, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO--Unified standards in next-generation Linux-Java mobile applications will need to be established, as the cellular and IP (Internet Protocol) worlds collide in the future, says a senior executive from Motorola.

Rob Shaddock, CTO of Motorola's mobile devices business, predicted that Internet access will be pervasive across mobile devices, with IP as the "common thread", over the next two years.

"What enables this is the software environment, and what we hope to [help create] is a business environment [on the mobile platform] that's close to the wired Internet," he said, addressing developers at the JavaOne conference Thursday.

Driving this convergence process will be technologies such as High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) and more sophisticated mobile devices, as well as trends such as interactive TV and peer-to-peer communications in mobile applications, noted Shaddock.

As HSDPA--also known as 3.5G--is able to handle user data throughput equal to 75 percent of typical cable and DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) speeds today, Shaddock expects mobile users to clamor for a "seamless universe" where they can easily control the movement of data between wired and unwired devices.

He described a fully converged future where mobiles users who move content between a TV and cell phone, are "really just moving content between two IP addresses across a Bluetooth network".

Adding on to the convergence equation would be the advent of more powerful phones, built on Linux and Java software. The technologies, he said, enable "sufficient application power inside the phone to make it a compelling experience for the user".

According to Gartner, the number of Linux-based smart phones grew by 300 percent in 2005.

Motorola's new Rokr E2.0, the second and latest version of its music phone with iTunes which is slated for release by the end of this quarter, is one of the company's first Linux and Java products, Shaddock said.

People see Linux as a technology for smart phones, he said. "[With the Rokr E2.0], we're taking Java [together with Linux] into the mainstream," he added.

However, in order for convergence to truly flourish, more must be done by players in the mobile industry ecosystem to standardize on the two platforms. Many application developers today cannot keep up with rapid changes in software platform, fixed wireless and cellular technologies, Shaddock stressed.

He pointed out that the speed at which mobile technology is developing has outpaced the standardization process, and this is hampering the efforts of application developers.

"We need to get the standardization process moving faster to keep up with the pace of [mobile] technology," Shaddock said. Lagging standardization has resulted in a fragmented market where devices cannot interoperate seamlessly, he said.

In a bid to resolve this, Motorola has jumpstarted various projects aimed at standardizing the two software platforms--Java and Linux--within the mobile industry.

Earlier this week, it launched a Web site resource for developers to view and share source codes, participate in open source projects, and exchange ideas and information with one another.

At the same time, the company announced that it will open-source its Java test framework and sample test cases, and develop the reference implementation and compliance tests for Motorola-lead JSRs (Java Specification Requests), such as the Mobile Information Device Profiles (MIDP) 3.0 specification.

These announcements follow last week's launch of Motodev, a project aimed at facilitating developers to innovate on Motorola's platforms and products.

ZDNet Asia's Jeanne Lim reported from San Francisco.

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