Device operating systems

OS Watch: LG Gives Android a Dual Core

As expected, LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) unveiled this week what it has claimed is the world's first smartphone with a dual-core processor. The Android-based Optimus 2X sports a 1GHz Tegra 2 chip from Nvidia Corp. (Nasdaq: NVDA). (See LG Unveils First Dual-Core Smartphone.)

The processor allows for faster, smoother Web browsing and app usage, as well as 1080p HD video playback. The phone will make its debut in South Korea next month running Android 2.2, Froyo. In the future, it will migrate to Asia and Europe and be upgradable to Android 2.3, Gingerbread. (See Android Bakes Its Gingerbread.)

Dual-core processors will become the norm next year, as chipsets from Nvidia, Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), ARM Ltd. , and others make their way into more phones and tablets. These processors will be important to make smartphones more PC-like, but also to the operating systems.

Dual-core chips bring new features to the OS, such as 3D, multitasking, multimedia enhancements, and improved graphics. BlackBerry , for one, says it will wait until dual-core chipsets are more readily available before it brings its PlayBook OS QNX to smartphones. (See OS Watch: Device Makers Sound Off and The PlayBook Play-by-Play.)

  • Frag Watch: More leaks from Verizon indicate that the service provider plays a role in determining what Android devices will get the latest OS update, Gingerbread. The memo suggests that carriers can help to limit fragmentation as well by doing their part not to slow the process down.

  • Developers sample new OSs: Mobile app developers plan to branch out in terms of OS support, but Android is still attracting the most newbies. According to ad network Millennial Media's latest Mobile Device Index, 29 percent of app developers plan to start building for Android for the first time next year, while 20 percent have their eyes on the iPad, and 20 percent on Windows Phone 7. The iPhone's cut in this instance was smaller, although not likely because of waning interest, but rather because most developers are already building for it.

  • Cheap Androids explode: Well, not explode in the manner that this Android did, but Android is poised to be the growth story of 2011. However, there will be a large market for basic ultra-low cost phones and cheap smartphones as well. According to new data from Pyramid Research , Android phones combined with cheap phones -- especially cheap Android phones -- will spur growth of roughly 8 percent of total handsets sold in 2011, reaching about 1.4 billion devices. That is because 70 percent of new handset sales in 2011 through 2015 will take place in emerging markets where consumers have less disposable income.

  • China Mobile upgrades its OS: China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) is turning to the OS to encourage its subscribers to use its TD-SCDMA 3G network. The carrier plans to launch version 2.5 of OPhone in February or March, followed by version 3 later in the year, Lu Zhihu, deputy director at the China Mobile Research Institute, told attendees at the 2010 International Mobile Internet Conference this week. The OS is actually Android-based, but with features specific to China Mobile. The new updates will bring voice recognition, improve the network, and bring better connectivity to mobile services. It will also see the OS move from just higher end smartphones to lower-end models.

    PC World reports that since China Mobile deployed its 3G network in 2009, only 16.9 million of its 570 million customers are using the network. It hopes the OS updates will change this.

    — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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