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Mobile Linux on the move in Asia, study says

Jan 31, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

A Research and Markets study says that the market share for mobile Linux in Asia will increase in 2008. The study also predicts that smartphones will continue to grab mobile-phone market share, and will represent 22 percent of the Asian mobile market this year.

(Click for larger view of Zhongxing Telecommunication Equipment (ZTE)'s Linux-based e3 phone)

Research and Market's “Mobile Device Market Trends in 2008” identifies five key trends in the Asian mobile phone market, which focuses on Korea, Japan, and China:

  • Rise of mobile Linux — Symbian's 70 percent market in the region will start to drop due to competition from Linux and Windows Mobile. Linux will gain the greatest percentage increase, says the study, primarily due to interest in the Google Android project.
  • Smartphones keep coming — Smartphone market share will increase to 22 percent, leading to greater use of web-based services on the mobile network.
  • Handset companies to acquire UI firms — Handset vendors will increasingly pursue mergers with user-interface software companies and introduce sophisticated new UI technologies to differentiate products. According to the study, “The idea that User Interface = Culture Code is spreading in the market, and Apple iPhone can be taken as a prime example.” Though not mentioned in the report, Nokia's announcement of its plans to acquire Trolltech may primarily be seen as a way to acquire cross-platform middleware technology, yet the acquisition also brings Nokia UI-related vendors that are members of the Qtopia Greensuite ecosystem.

    Motorola's haptics-enabled Rokr e8
    (Click to enlarge)

  • Touchscreens move up — More and more phones in Asia will sport iPhone-like touchscreen interfaces. The problem of input error will be solved with haptics-based tactile feedback technology via vibrations or colors, says the study. Though not mentioned in the report, the just-announced Motorola Rokr E8, pictured at right, uses adaptive control surfaces with haptic feedback.
  • GPS gets its bearings — GPS enabled handsets and related location-based service (LBS) could be “the new killer application.” Meanwhile, another research firm, ABI Research, just released a report on GPS, predicting that GPS-enabled handsets will achieve an annual sales volume of more than 96 million units by 2012, gradually stealing total market share from in-car navigation devices.

Finally, the study projects that in the Korean and Japanese handset markets, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, and Sharp will continue to be the most aggressive players, and that among mobile operators in these countries, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, SK Telecom, and KTF will take the lead in establishing the device market. The study also says the two markets will increasingly mimic worldwide trends.

The report further muddies the picture of mobile Linux in Asia. In November, CCID Consulting reported that in China, Linux's share of smartphone sales declined from about 30 percent at year-end 2006 to a little over 25 percent as of 3Q 2007, largely due to weakening volumes for Motorola smartphones. Meanwhile, a recent ABI Research study reported a strong 2007 market for worldwide mobile phone sales, with yearly shipments up 15.8 percent to 1.15 billion.


The Research and Markets report “Mobile Device Market Trends in 2008” is available here.

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