Making Mobile Linux Easier

Will Linux in the mobile market ever really take off? Are we barking up the wrong tree altogether? To be honest, I don’t have the answers to these questions. I am not completely sure what the best approach is and which way Linux needs to be moving within the field. There are some points on this subject in this article from The Feature that might help to shed some light on this matter.

Mobile phones running Linux as their OS continue to represent just a drop in the ocean of handset sales and models, and whether the Linux companies are aiming for the wrong segment of the market or they’re banking on developers that aren’t really there for software, things don’t look to be changing anytime soon. But Linux providers are wisening up to the mobile market, and making some adjustments to their strategies.

MontaVista, whose flavor of Linux is already used in phones made by Motorolaand some other manufacturers, said this week it would begin churning out several reference designs a year, across multiple chip platforms and using software components like browsers and PIM applications from different developers. It will offer the designs to handset vendors free of charge with a view to cutting the development time-to-market of a Linux handset from two years to six months, more in line with other smartphone operating systems. A MontaVista exec acknowledges that while the technological capabilities of Linux may be on par with Symbian or Windows Mobile, the integration work that’s necessary to deliver devices to market is still a heavy burden for manufacturers.

Reference designs make sense here, where companies are looking for Linux to gain some traction, particularly at the lower and middle segments of the market, where using a pre-designed package is more palatable for handset vendors. It’s also a strategy that helped Microsoft win Asian ODM customers when it launched its mobile-phone software.