ARM makes its Mobile Linux move

ARM has unveiled its plans develop a Linux-based open source platform for next-generation mobile applications.

The possibility to standardise on an essentially royalty-free, open source operating system for the next generation of PC-like mobile phones is too good to ignore.

Is a potential standards battle for Mobile Linux likely ? See the Parallel Lines blog

With more processors in mobile handsets than almost any other processor firm ARM is in a strong position to define a standard approach to an open-source software platform.

ARM’s plan is to develop an open source platform based on Linux, Gnome Mobile and Mozilla Firefox running on silicon from Texas Instruments, Marvell and Samsung.

But there are already two competing Mobile Linux groups – the LiMo Foundation and the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum – and now ARM has drawn companies from both camps to go off at a tangent to develop their own Linux-based open source platform for next-generation mobile applications.

Over the next 5 years, Linux is expected to be the fastest growing Smartphone operating system at a growth rate in excess of 75%, according to ABI Research.

A new report forecasts that Linux-based OS will account for nearly 31% of all smart devices in the market by 2012 — representing more than 331 million cumulative shipments over the same period.

The increased focus on Mobile Linux shows the high level of interest from all segments of the cellular handset industry, including manufacturers, network operators and component suppliers. This is demonstrated by the expanding membership of the LiMo Foundation, the industry group established in January of this year to develop a common Linux Platform.

The LiMo Foundation was founded by Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Samsung Electronics and Vodafone.

However, the LiMo Foundation is not the only group working on establishing a Mobile Linux standard.

The Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum has recently released its own set of specifications as Release 1.0, with an accompanying roadmap highlighting specific goals for implementation throughout 2008.

According to John Devlin, a dircetior at market research firm IMS Research, the LiMo Foundation intends to develop an actual mobile Linux platform, which potentially will conform to the standards established by the LiPS Forum.

“However, since the LiMo Foundation has stated a desire to have products shipping as early as next 2Q08, they are working in advance of any final standards that will be set by the LiPS Forum. This creates the potential for the LiMO Foundation platform becoming a de facto competing standard,” said Devlin.

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