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Device operating systems

OS Watch: Gadget Makers Soften Up at CES

LAS VEGAS -- 2012 International CES -- The annual gadget show here was all about the new devices, but their operating systems got some face time as well.

  • Intel's in a Tizy: Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)'s Linux-based OS Tizen, evolved out of MeeGo in partnership with Samsung Corp. , resurfaced at CES as the chipmaker promised tablets based on the software out this year. Intel also committed to Android and Windows 8 as part of its big mobile push. (See Intel, Moto Mobility Team Up and CES 2012: The Ultra Tablet Show.)

  • Android's got style: Ice Cream Sandwiches were all over CES, so much so that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) released its first style guidelines for device manufacturers and apps developers to learn about how to best build for Android. The guidelines are, however, just a suggestion, so there's no guarantee they'll help ease fragmentation of the Android ecosystem.

  • Nokia focuses on fragmentation: It's this fragmentation that Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is trying to avoid with Windows Phone, according to CEO Stephen Elop, who spoke at the Lumia 900 unveiling. Even though Nokia wants to add its special features, like Drive and Maps, to its own Windows Phone devices, Elop said it won't introduce APIs that would fragment the market. (See Nokia Illuminates Its Flagship Windows Phone, Nokia Counts on AT&T for a US Comeback and CES 2012: It's Time for That Third Ecosystem, Microsoft.)

  • RIM promises a better OS: BlackBerry didn't have a large presence in Vegas, but it did use the gadgetfest to try to lure developers back to BlackBerry with promises of OS updates. In its upcoming BlackBerry OS release, RIM smartphones will gain Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities, Blackberry Messenger (BBM) updates, and Tag, a Near-Field Communications (NFC)-enabled content sharing app. RIM's now much cheaper PlayBook tablet will also get improved productivity apps, a native calendar, email capabilities, contact apps and social networking integration.

  • Windows Phone starts small, but mighty: Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) was all over CES showing off just two smartphones based on the OS, the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) Titan and Nokia Lumia 900. It may not match Android's device parade, but Microsoft's message was heard loud and clear as the OS received a ton of praise and buzz at the show. Next step: delivering on the device launches. Pricing and timing for AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Lumia have yet to be announced. (See AT&T's Dev Con: The Takeaways and Nokia's Third Ecosystem Starts With AT&T.)

  • Microsoft connects with LG: Even if Windows Phone doesn't pan out, Microsoft has a healthy business eking patent royalties out of the competition. LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) is the latest to agree to pay the company royalties for all its "tablets, mobile phones and other consumer devices running the Android or Chrome OS platform." This brings Microsoft's total licensing deals with Android or Chrome vendors to 10, covering 70 percent of all Android smartphones sold in the U.S.

    Want to relive the glory of CES this week? Check out all our coverage at our show site.

    — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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