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Linux mobile software firm plants flag in China

Jan 16, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

A design center in the South of France specializing in Linux mobile phone development has opened offices in Beijing. Purple Labs's China office will be headed by newly appointed GM of Asian sales Gordon Tsang (pictured at left), formerly of Openwave.

Based in Chambery, France, Purple Labs is said to offer “one-stop” services “from hardware reference design to a complete customizable Linux software suite.” Its published, open source Linux suite is based on a 2.4.20 kernel, with optimizations for TI OMAP730 and OMAP850 chips. It targets mid-tier feature-phones, which advanced features like multimedia playback and videoconferencing.

The Purple Labs feature-phone stack includes multimedia players, videoconferencing, and an HTML browser

Grundig's G500i Dreamphone,
designed by Purple Labs

(Click for details)

Purple Labs is perhaps best known for designing the Grundig G500i “Dreamphone” (pictured at right), a quad-band GSM/EDGE phone designed to work with iMode, the Internet-like packet-switched data service created by NTT/DoCoMo. iMode is hugely popular in Japan, and also available in other areas where DoCoMo has been able to sell iMode infrastructure equipment — for example, in France, where mobile operator Bouygues (“Bweeg”) offers iMode service and distributes the Dreamphone.

Compared to Linux-based Japanese iMode phones from NEC, Panasonic, and others, the Dreamphone is smaller and more fashionable, Purple Labs said when it shipped the device a couple of years ago. The company has since shipped several newer Linux-based designs, including the Blackberry-like B700 and the interesting single-core U900, which uses virtualization technology from VirtualLogix to run Linux and a baseband RTOS on the same processor core.

In September, Purple Labs announced it had raised $14.5 million (10.5 Euros) in an initial funding round, and a few weeks ago the company joined the Linux Mobile (LiMo) Foundation phone platform group. The company is also a member of a more formal standards group called the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum.

In his new role as GM/VP of Asia sales, Gordon Tsang will lead the office in establishing local technical support while expanding sales opportunities in the region, says Purple Labs. Tsang has held executive positions at a series of mobile-phone software companies, including Zi Corporation, Magic4, and most recently, Openwave Systems, where he was VP and GM for the worldwide client software business, heading up sales and professional services.

Stated Simon Wilkinson, CEO of Purple Labs, “Gordon was instrumental in establishing Magic4 as the global leader in mobile messaging, and I am very happy to welcome him to Purple Labs.”

In conjunction with the new Beijing office, Purple Labs launched a Chinese-language website.

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