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Linux to dominate MID market

Aug 4, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Linux will outperform Windows Mobile and other rival operating systems (OSes) in the mobile Internet device (MID) market, says ABI Research. Led by Moblin, LiMo, and Maemo, the Linux MID market should hit 50 million shipments a year by 2013, says the research group.

Only one of the three main players — the LiMo Foundation — has active plans to cover smartphones, as well as MIDs. In fact, LiMo's real focus is on phones, and the group announced seven new LiMo-compliant handsets only today. Yet, supporting MIDs means LiMo greatlly increases the target hardware options available to software developers targeting LiMO mobile phones. One of LiMO's primary missions is to standardize Linux for mobile phones, so that a native application ecosystem can develop (in addition to Java and “web widget” applications supported today).

Intel coined the term “MID” in April of 2007 when it launched the MID concept. The term is typically applied to a variety of tablet-like devices that are larger than an iPhone and smaller than a netbook. A number of MID devices are expected to ship over the next few months, including the Lenovo prototype shown above.

According to ABI, the MID market represents a rare “greenfield situation” in which all mobile OSes are starting out about equal, “without the baggage of previous histories such as existed in the smartphone market.” Linux will lead the pack, says the research group, due in large part to “its ability to provide a converged platform that can span multiple device segments.”

The other two open source platforms for tablet-like devices — Maemo and Moblin — are sponsored by Nokia and Intel, respectively. Both platforms are currently aimed closely at their target markets: Nokia Internet Tablets for Maemo, and Intel Atom-based MIDs for Moblin. Intel and Moblin are expected to ship Moblin 2.0 early in 2009.

Stated ABI research director Stuart Carlaw, “Maemo is already in this space thanks to the patronage of Nokia; Moblin will benefit from tight integration with Atom and Intel's drive; and LiMo is actively being positioned for this market. The flexibility, customization, and very positive cost comparison to Windows Mobile looks set to ensure that Linux takes the leading role in this market.”

A recent study on MIDs by Forward Concepts also forecast that Linux will be a top OS in the segment, pegging total MID shipments as growing from 305,000 units in 2008 to 39.6 million units in 2012. For chip-makers, that equates to growth from $29 million in 2008 to $2.6 billion in 2012, said Forward Concepts.


The MID analysis is part of an ABI Research study, called “Mobile Linux,” which should be available here.

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