MIDs and Mobile Linux: Perfect Traveling Companions


The jockeying continues in the mobile Linux sector and, it appears, a good deal of the sizzle will be on mobile Internet devices (MIDs), the emerging class of devices between smartphones and ultra mobile PCs (UMPCs). In the past week, for instance, Intel bought OpenedHand and Wind River bought MIZI Research.


InformationWeek reports that OpenedHand will become part of Intel's Open Source Technology Center. The goal is to optimize the Moblin (Mobile Linux) software stack for Atom, its new low-power processor. Atom, in turn, will first turn its attention to the MID market. Eventually, the technology bought from OpenedHand will be used in television set-top boxes, personal navigation devices, ultra-lightweight laptops and personal media players in addition to MIDs.


The Wind River acquisition of MIZI Research, a Korean company that develops mobile-applications platforms using embedded Linux, also focuses at least in part on MIDs. MIZI, according to this iTWire piece, was one of the first companies on the mobile Linux scene. In addition to MIDs, MIZI will help Wind River provide software for phones, automotive telematics and videophones. Wind River technology is part of the LiMo Foundation's Common Integration Environment, the story says.


In a similar, though perhaps less dramatic, move, FST last week released a software-development kit (SDK) for its FancyPants lightweight graphics stack. The SDK, the story says, is aimed at Moblin-based MIDs that use the Atom Z5 series.



In mid-June, Forward Concepts published a study on MIDs and the chips in them. The press release focused on defining the category and which vendors are best-positioned from a chip standpoint. Will Strauss, Forward Concept's president and the editor of the report, said Linux will be a popular MID operating system due to its "lower processing overhead and tighter OEM control."


ABI Research more directly addressed Linux and MIDs. It says the three biggest Linux operating systems used by MIDs -- Moblin, LiMo and Maemo -- will hit an annual volume of 50 million by 2013. The MID sector, ABI suggests, is attractive because it is new. Therefore, emerging operating systems and applications don't have to battle entrenched incumbents clawing to retain every inch of market share. ABI says Linux will be used as both a commercial and real-time operating system.