LiMo Links With GNOME To Boost Mobile Linux

Developers have been slower to come to the Linux mobile platform compared to other smartphone operating systems.



The LiMo Foundation has partnered with the GNOME Foundation to collaborate on further development of LiMo's Linux-based mobile device platform, the two groups said Monday. Part of the alliance calls for LiMo Foundation to become a member of GNOME Foundation's advisory board, and GNOME Foundation will become a liaison for LiMo Foundation.

The GNOME Foundation supports the GNOME free and open source software project, and provides a platform for developers both in mobile and desktop applications.

The partnership is significant, because it provides a new channel of developers to build applications for mobile Linux distribution as well as LiMo on smartphones, said Chris Hazelton, research director of mobile and wireless at the 451 Group. The challenge for LiMo is that there are some LiMo-powered smartphones, "but they are not seeing the shipments other devices are."

The LiMo platform is based on Linux, but is carrier-branded, so the operating system "is in the background and the carrier services are in the front, so they are often branded like a Vodaphone device" from Samsung, for example, which is the most prominent of the LiMo handsets, Hazelton said. Other LiMo handsets include the Samsung SCH-M510, the ROKR EM30 from Motorola, and a variety of DoCoMo Style and Smart series phones.

With LiMo, "the carrier decides what services are on the device," like mapping, browser, search engine, games, and some business software, since it is a smartphone, he said.

"The carriers are very excited about [LiMo] but LiMo's ecosystem is not as developed as other operating systems that have a larger base of developers, and users can download more choices for applications, because there are more choices,'' said Hazelton. With the branding Android has from Google, as well as its built-in tools, LiMo is behind the curve, he said, leaving it in an uphill battle to compete.

"LiMo is in a tough spot,'' added Hazelton, "because there are too many operating systems out there and one of most popular is open source and LiMo is late to the game." While LiMo devices have a subscriber base, the target market is not nearly as large as that of some of the other operating systems. "If I'm a developer with limited time and money, I want the highest return, so I may go to LiMo later on but I want to see a larger number of subscribers on these devices in a number of geographies," said Hazelton.

In addition to GNOME Foundation, LiMo Foundation merged with LiPS (The Linux Phone Standards) in June 2008.

"LiMo has a proud heritage of well-established open source technology and is committed to bringing open source innovation to a broad range of commercial products," said Morgan Gillis, executive director of LiMo Foundation, in a statement. "This close alignment between LiMo and GNOME provides important support for this commitment and will take in an expanding ecosystem of products and services developed by GNOME developers in conjunction with the members of LiMo Foundation."

The LiMo Foundation was launched in January 2007 with Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Samsung Electronics, and Vodafone as its founding members. Other members include LG, Verizon Wireless, Azingo, SK Telecom, and Telefonica.

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