The Linux Option
Linux, as it turns out, may be the second most popular OS running on handsets these days, after Symbian Ltd. , which maintains its leadership thanks to Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)’s ardent efforts. Of course, Nokia also has its toe in the Linux waters, most notably via the 770 and N800 products and its Maemo development environment and soapbox. OK, no doubt about it, Linux is going to have a place in the next generation of smartphones, right up there with OS X and the role XP will play, or, at least that I’ve theorized it will play. But imagine my surprise when my good friend and colleague Glenn Edens (recently departed SVP from Sun Microsystems, where he specialized in all things media) asked me about my opinion of OpenMoko. I’d never heard of OpenMoko, but I’ve always found it best not to let Glenn know that there’s something I don’t know. Anyway, he provided a link that kind of tells the story.
But the real important part is that FIC (who really are OpenMoko) are building a handset based on all of this, and, my, my, it sure looks a lot like an iPhone, with gestures and everything! The big questions are, of course, will someone besides FIC pick all of this up, will the carriers like the open-source approach, and will there ever be a common Linux API for smartphones? There’s competition here -- have a look at LIPs, the Linux Phone Standards Forum. The answers are unclear, but even I have to admit that there may be a Linux phone in your future.
— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung