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Verizon's LiMo Bean 'Surprise'

Verizon Wireless today confirmed its membership in the LiMo Foundation and said that it plans to have phones using the Linux-based open-source operating system out in 2009.

The news came as a surprise to many in the industry, even some mobile application developers that Unstrung has been speaking to today. LiMo has been overshadowed by Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s similar Android development work during the past year.

It won't have been a surprise to regular Unstrung readers, however, as we got wind of Verizon's LiMo ambitions late last week. (See Verizon Opens LiMo Door .)

The Verizon moves make LiMo a contender in what had been shaping up as four-horse race among Google, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), and Symbian Ltd. for the soul of the next-generation smartphone. Currently, Symbian and Microsoft have the cold hard numbers on their side, but Apple and Google have the sexy newness that legions of blogistas can't resist.

The move, however, doesn't prevent Verizon from adding Android to its armory when the time comes. The company is not adopting LiMo to the exclusion of other operating systems, Kyle Malady, vice president of network for Verizon, said in a conference call today. LiMo simply lets Verizon get Linux handsets to market more quickly.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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