Symbian: Mobile Linux 'fragmentation city'

Enterprises will not touch Linux as a mobile platform because the companies involved are too fragmented, claims a Symbian executive

Enterprises will not adopt mobile Linux because it is too fragmented, according to Symbian's head of enterprise business market development.

Speaking at the Mobility Summit in London on Monday, Andrew Moran said that mobile Linux was "fragmentation city" and "completely unfeasible". Despite describing Linux as being "important as a web server platform", Moran claimed it was currently too hard for enterprise users to plan deployment of open source on mobile handsets. "You would have to have a rock-solid business case to do that," he added.

Nigel Heaney, the EMEA telecoms director for mobile applications company Dexterra, agreed that there are currently no suitable devices that run Linux, but hinted that such devices are "starting to" appear. He also suggested that RIM's BlackBerry smartphones would become less popular in the future, as Microsoft and Nokia increasingly drive the marketplace.

"RIM has done a good job with pushing mobile email," said Heaney. "They have started well, but how do you drive [the market] forward?" He also indicated that the most successful platform would be that which entered into partnership with the operators, giving them increased control of applications.

Linux already sits underneath the platform on some handsets from manufacturers such as Motorola, but only in consumer devices. Two broad alliances have, however, been established to bolster mobile Linux. Each boasts a network of leading manufacturers in the mobile industry. The LiMo Foundation includes members such as Vodafone, Motorola and Samsung, while the LiPS Forum counts on the support of Texas Instruments, France Telecom and Trolltech. The LiPS Forum has also just released its first API set to help develop applications for handsets.

Rob Bamforth, an analyst for Quocirca, said that the fragmented nature of the companies working towards a mobile Linux platform could even be an advantage. "The upside is, you have a bunch of people pushing a similar story," he told, while warning that mobile Linux would probably still have to create a niche for itself in the enterprise market.


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