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MontaVista asserts mobile Linux leadership

May 16, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

MontaVista Software announced today that its commercial Linux OS has shipped in 35 million mobile devices, including 15 million last year. Additionally, it said it ranked fourth overall among mobile operating system providers in terms of revenue, according to figures compiled by Venture Development Corp. (VDC).

Compared to other vendors of Linux phone stacks, MontaVista offers lower-level components, with a focus on kernel ports, drivers, and development tools. This has led to questions about whether the company could monetize its offering, given its lack of royalty-based licensing and the ever-rising “value line” between low-level commodity functionality and higher-level, vertical market value-adds to Linux.

Months before announcing Mobilinux as a mobile phone stack, however, the company began promoting Mobilinux as an ecosystem. This focus on partnerships may be helping the company keep its product offering above the value line.

Stephen Balacco, director of VDC's embedded software practice, commented, “The technology leadership and execution of MontaVista is enhanced by its extensive global partner ecosystem, which includes many of the industry's leading semiconductor manufacturers, boards and systems vendors, development tools suppliers, integrators, and independent software vendors.” (MontaVista currently lists Aplix, Certicom, Digital Airways, embWiSe, Flander Oy, Jataayu Software, Openwave Systems, Pollex Mobile Software, Red Bend Software, SKY MobileMedia, Sleepycat Software, TapRoot Systems, and VirtualLogix, as its Mobilinux partners.)

MontaVista said that VDC sees it “taking market share away from industry giants” Microsoft, Symbian, and Access/PalmSource. It described its Mobilinux product as the “only proven commercial Linux platform optimized for mobile devices,” and attributes Linux's increasing popularity in phones to availability of “commercial Linux for mobile platforms, with complete toolsets and testing environments.”

MontaVista says Mobilinux offers native hard real-time performance, rapid startup, and a small footprint. Additionally, it comes with tools that help developers optimize memory usage, reduce total memory and flash footprint, and add graphical, multimedia, and connectivity capabilities.

Noting that Mobilinux supports several architectures, MontaVista said its Mobilinux customer list includes “nearly all major phone manufacturers.” In particular, it claimed involvement in “recently announced projects with Motorola, Enteos, and NEC,” presumably referring to the Rokr Z6 and Razr2 (pictured), the Enteo iGo 730 and LinAP phones, and NEC's N903i.

MontaVista CEO Tom Kelly stated, “Linux is growing rapidly on mobile devices because of its solid reliability, its great flexibility, and because it accelerates the development cycle. The leading handset OEMs have said that MontaVista Mobilinux and our ecosystem of partners have become central to their strategies because our innovations in hard real-time, hardware support, and tools give the OEMs capabilities for 3G and beyond.”

In other news, MontaVista was named a finalist in the “most innovative company” category in the 2007 American Business Awards, also known as the “Stevie Awards.”

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