Players Scrambling for Position in Mobile Open Source Operating Systems

Carl Weinschenk

Most of the attention is being paid to the iPhone, Android and Symbian, but the LiMo Foundation shouldn't be overlooked -- especially recently, as the group made a good bit of news.

 

At LinuxWorld, the foundation introduced several handsets, according to iTWire. The story provides the most details on the Motorola EM 30, which features GPS, advanced music and other features. There now are 22 handsets featuring the LiMo open source operating system.

 

The foundation also announced 11 new members, bringing its total to more than 50. The best known of the new entrants are Telecom Italia and chipmaker Freescale Semiconductor. The others are Cellon, Esmertec, Longcheer Holdings, MIZI Research, Movial, PacketVideo, SK Innoace and VirtualLogix.

 

At a LinuxWorld presentation in San Francisco, Google marketing manager Eric Chu said that that Android has no plans to join the LiMo Foundation. The relationship between open source mobile operating system platforms is important because groups ultimately will compete against each other despite the fact that the philosophical underpinning of the open source community is anti-competitive. Chu's rationale for not joining LiMo is revealing:

In the end, what matters most is what consumers are looking for. But having too many people on the design phase, especially early on, would have hurt the project. You could have three different user interfaces and a couple of application layers. That doesn't make sense.

The crux of Chu's comments appears to speak to the bigger issue of unifying the two approaches as opposed to the question that was at hand, which was Google's potential membership in LiMo. The two are not synonymous. The writer points out that there are some groups that are members of both LiMo and The Open Handset Consortium, the Google-led group developing Android.

 


It will be interesting to watch the situation unfold. Within the last month, there were two notable Andoid-related news items: Developers are disappointed with the way in which the OHA is managing the Android software developer's kit and analyst Jack Gold suggested that an Android/Symbian merger is inevitable.

 

The SDK rift likely can be healed and an analyst suggesting that something is inevitable is a far cry from something actually being inevitable. The larger takeaway is that there is a growing buzz around open source mobile operating systems. That, as AndroidGuy blogger Scott Webster points out to IT Business Edge blogger Lora Bentley, is a good thing for the sector.



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