OSiM 2008: Linux Mobile Phones on the March Forward
The leading hardware and software vendors are currently meeting at the world’s largest mobile-specific Open Source conference to network about the future of the industry. Linux Magazine Online is there to present news on the progress.
Yesterday in Berlin, the third annual OSiM World conference opened on the theme “Open Source in Mobile.” In two tracks over two days, the discussion focused mainly on the strategic role of Linux as the basis for future mobile devices. High among the arguments is that Linux usage on mobile phones will multiply significantly over the next years. Apart from touting this obvious opportunity, the first day’s presentations were largely concerned with the risk of technological fragmentation, or the feared proliferation of different systems that, in the end, can only cause woes for developers.
On the one hand is the LiMo Foundation with over 50 companies as members, from mobile phone vendors such as Samsung and Motorola, and chip manufacturers such as Marvell, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, to carriers such as Vodafone, Orange and DoCoMO out of Japan. On the other hand are its competitors in the Open Handset Alliance that are concentrating on the new Android mobile phone platform driven by Google. As yet, there are no devices that support the Android platform, although a mobile phone from HTC should become available in the U.S. market around October. Interestingly, many Open Handset Alliance members have concurrent membership in LiMo.
The Moblin community also plays an active part, albeit their preference for the larger Internet Tablets or Mobile Internet Devices. A driving force behind Moblin is chip maker Intel. In the same market segment is the Maemo platform from Nokia that is pioneering the use of Linux for its N770 and N800 Internet Tablets.
The summations to the presentations were mixed, if not optimistic. Fragmentation was still a concern – much like Java for mobile devices – but there was a consensus that the problem should resolve itself with time. Developers who most suffer under these conditions are small, independent ones without sufficient resources to provide their software on multiple platforms.
Beside the more strategically directed presentations at the OSiM conference were a range of workshops where companies such as ACCESS, Google, Motorola and Intel could present themselves in the best light.
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