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Mobile Linux stack targets 3G multimedia phones

Apr 23, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

A la Mobile has added streaming media capabilities to its Linux-based mobile phone software stack. The “3G Streaming Media” version of its Linux 2.6.12-based Convergent Linux Platform targets smartphone integrators, particularly in Asia, who want to build phones capable of video conferencing, video telephony, interactive gaming, and mobile IPTV.

A la Mobile's 3G stack is the second product in the company's “Made Ready” line of vertical market spins on its flagship Convergent Linux Platform (CLP) stack. The first Made Ready product, a VoIP-enabled stack for dual-mode phones, was licensed to a Malaysian phone vendor.

Along with a 2.6.12 kernel, CLP features “pre-integrated” open-source and third-party offerings, along with a hardware abstraction layer aimed at supporting rapid migration to new mobile phone hardware, as it becomes available.

A la Mobile says its new 3G spin of CLP supports RTP and RTSP network streaming protocols. The stack also provides “pre-integrated” support for multimedia formats popular in Asia, including 3GP multimedia, H.263, H.264, MPEG-4, and AMR codecs.

Company CEO Pauline Lo Alker declined to name the company's third-party codec provider partners. She explained, “We have to remain flexible,” noting that CLP aims to give customers options. “For example, we support the three top mobile phone browser vendors, including Opera, Access, and Obigo,” she said.

Additional touted capabilities of CLP 3G include a mobile Java platform, Adobe Flash, and a “core suite” of applications such as messaging and push-email.

Lo Alker compared her company's efforts to market its CLP stacks in Asia to a “full court press.” She said the company was “past the talking stage” with several companies, but could not yet name confirmed customers. She said, “Many Asian network operators there are smaller, and unlike U.S. carriers, they don't control how phones are deployed.”

Lo Alker hopes CLP 3G can help smaller Asian operators minimize customer “churn,” or turnover, and increase ARPU (average revenue per user) by supporting higher-margin services such as mobile TV and interactive content delivery. “Many people in China today have a lot of capital to spend, and there is demand there for 3G phones, especially with the Olympics coming,” she said.

The Chinese economy grew 11 percent during the most recent quarter, leading to inflation fears that sent its stock market spiraling downward last week, in a replay of a similar event several weeks ago. The news also sent sympathetic ripples through markets in the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe.

China represents the largest mobile phone market in the world, with an estimated 400 million subscribers. However, the market there could face over-supply conditions as domestic Chinese companies crowd in to compete with foreign suppliers.

In the global market, meanwhile, rapid consolidation is underway, with the top six vendors now controlling 86 percent of the market, up from 81 percent last year.

A la Mobile distributes CLP under a royalty-bearing license. Thus, the venture-funded startup may have to choose its customers carefully, if it hopes to establish a reliable revenue stream.

According to Lo Alker, “The 3G mobile industry is driven by the growing consumer desire to accomplish a multitude of daily functions on mobile phones, whether for work or for play. The phone is rapidly being transformed into a hybrid productivity and entertainment consumer device, and our Made-Ready software solutions directly address the need for rapid and cost effective development.”

285 million mobile phone users were expected to subscribe to 3G services at the end of 2006, according to ABI Research figures cited by a la Mobile, with annual 3G-capable handset shipments expected to eclipse the 300 million mark.

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