Mobile Linux Gets Another Shot In The Arm - InformationWeek

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12/11/2007
12:58 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Mobile Linux Gets Another Shot In The Arm

There's some good news for the development of mobile Linux lately. Today, Access was tapped to develop a Linux platform for NTT DoCoMo. Yesterday, the Linux Phone Standards Forum agreed to its first specification for mobile Linux. These announcements come just weeks after Google drops word of its

There's some good news for the development of mobile Linux lately. Today, Access was tapped to develop a Linux platform for NTT DoCoMo. Yesterday, the Linux Phone Standards Forum agreed to its first specification for mobile Linux. These announcements come just weeks after Google drops word of its Linux-based Android platform. Mobile Linux is gaining steam.Each one of these bits of news raises the positive outlook for mobile Linux. Here's a snapshot of why they are important for the mobile industry.

Access has been working on a next-generation, Linux-based OS for Palm devices for a while now, though it's been slower to get off the ground than many have hoped. The demos on the Access site are pretty cool. That NTT DoCoMo (the largest cell phone network operator in Japan) has placed its faith in Access' Linux platform is telling. Access also has the backing of hardware manufacturers NEC and Panasonic.

The company said this in a press release:

Access will make use of MOAP(L) (Mobile Oriented Application Platform based on Linux) which is the FOMA mobile platform used by NTT DoCoMo, and will lead the development of a shared software platform that also conforms to specifications of the LiMo Foundation, an independent, non-profit foundation established with the aim of promoting the use of Linux by the mobile industry. The five companies have also agreed to consider development of an operator pack for NTT DoCoMo based on the shared platform. Access intends to begin marketing the commercial products resulting from these efforts during fiscal 2009.

"Linux-based mobile phones are attracting attention at home and abroad," said Toru Arakawa, president and CEO, ACCESS. "The agreement by NTT DoCoMo, NEC, Panasonic Mobile and Esteemo to join us in discussing the development of a shared Linux-based platform and operator pack will contribute to the efficient development and prompt release of next-generation handsets by providing the type of user-friendly interface that is only possible with Linux."

I agree with Mr. Arakawa.

That news doesn't outshine LiPS' announcement, though. LiPS hopes to publish actual standards, rather than just code, that govern the development of mobile Linux. Yesterday it said that it has agreed to the first set of APIs for mobile Linux developers. The APIs cover mobile calendar, messaging, presence, reference model, telephony, and user interface services.

LiPS Forum President Haila Wang said, "LiPS is following the clear path blazed by GSM, TCP/IP, WiFi, and other standards that enable communications among device types and brands, over multiple operator networks, and across regional markets."

Having agreed-upon standards that organizations can rely on and follow is important. This is a big first step in granting mobile Linux a more uniform future. LiPS also said that it will work on creating more standards in 2008, specifically the application framework, advanced services APIs, device management APIs, and additional enabler APIs (e.g., for multimedia).

These two announcements in tandem with Google's plans for mobile Linux paint a positive picture for the open platform. The broad alliance of 30+ companies supporting Android shows that there is definitely faith in what Linux has to offer mobility. It looks like 2008 is going to be a big year for Linux.

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