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MontaVista touts Android services

Jul 15, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

MontaVista Software announced a professional services offering for developers working with the Google-sponsored Android mobile operating system. MontaVista's “Android Commercialization Services” will launch this week with a series of seminars in Tokyo, Taipei, and Seoul on developing for Android using MontaVista Linux, says the company.

MontaVista's Android Commercialization Services are designed to help designers realize the full potential of the Android framework while reducing development time and effort, says the long-time embedded Linux development firm. Although product development life cycles can be reduced significantly with Android compared to traditional development approaches, says MontaVista, commercial Android development is hampered by the lack of "formal support."

MontaVista's expertise in the Linux kernel and embedded firmware makes it well suited to helping developers deal with Android's "complex software framework," adds the company.

MontaVista Android Commercialization Services are said to include:

  • Porting Android to custom platforms
  • Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) porting
  • Adding advance features to the HAL
  • Adding advanced features to Android libraries, Java layers, and applications
  • Third-party application integration
  • Quality assurance and testing

T-Mobile's HTC-built
Android phone,
the MyTouch 3G

(Click for details)

MontaVista first announced its intention to support Android last November, when it demonstrated Android running on top of MontaVista Linux on a Texas Instruments (TI) OMAP3x system-on-chip (SoC). In today's announcement, MontaVista did not mention the scope of products covered by its Android Commercialization Services, but noted that Android supports mobile phones, smartphones, mobile Internet devices (MIDs), and netbooks.

Although the netbook format will be de-emphasized for Android now that Google has announced its netbook-oriented, Linux-based Google Chrome OS, Android netbooks are still likely to appear. The latest rumors on Android netbook plans appear to be cloudy, to say the least, but at least some of the speculated and announced Android netbooks and small-scale, ARM-based "smartbooks" should push forward to launch. Chrome OS is not projected to ship on netbooks until late 2010, and even as a stripped-down, web-oriented operating system, it may take longer to develop than anticipated.

From Motorola to Montabello

In smartphones, meanwhile, MontaVista's longtime partner and customer Motorola is now working on a series of Android smartphones, the first of which is due later this year. Presumably MontaVista is along for the ride with its troubled partner, although neither company has commented on such a continuing partnership.

MontaVista also points to its development of the Montabello MID stack as a source of expertise for its Android services. Montabello, which initially targets MIDs running on a Texas Instruments (TI) ARM Cortex-A8 OMAP3x system-on-chip, is now being used by an unnamed OEM customer, says MontaVista.

Whereas rival Wind River, which will soon be acquired by Intel, is a member of both Android's Open Handset Alliance (OHA) and the rival LiMo Foundation, MontaVista has joined LiMo only, and at a lower level of participation than Wind River. Despite Intel's aggressive development push for Moblin, which can be seen as an emerging rival to Android, at least on MIDs and netbooks, Wind River is likely to push forward with its Android plans. However, MontaVista, which has also recently joined Moblin, may see an opportunity here to more clearly align itself with Android.

Android's future in the wider embedded world

In a recent interview with LinuxDevices, MontaVista VP of Marketing Joerg Bertholdt offered his analysis of the impending acquisition of rival Wind River by Intel, and said that he did not expect Android to move much farther into the embedded world beyond mobile consumer electronics devices.

"You are probably not looking for cool apps to add to your medical device or your network equipment," Bertholdt told LinuxDevices. "There is still a gap between the consumer app-generation market and the broad embedded market where things like real-time capability or configurability are more important." Still, he noted, "There are places in the embedded world where parts of Android and Moblin can be leveraged and dropped in."

By contrast, emerging services-oriented rival Embedded Alley (EA), recently announced a port of Android to the MIPS platform with the intention of spreading the open source Linux/Java distribution across a wide array of embedded devices, starting with set-top boxes. Marvell CEO Sehat Sutardja also seems to be taken with the idea of Android spanning a wide array of devices, including potentially its popular new ARM-derived, Linux-based SheevaPlug embedded plug-in computer reference design.

MontaVista's Android announcement capped off a busy week for the company, which celebrated its tenth anniversary and demonstrated a fast-boot technology that is claimed to offer one-second boot-ups on an industrial device running a PowerPC-based Freescale MPC5121e SoC. The company is  soon expected to ship its MontaVista Linux 6 embedded Linux development distribution and toolsuite, which adds a new build engine and content server, an upgraded version of its DevRocket integrated development environment (IDE), as well as "Market Specific Distributions" (MSDs) for Intel, Freescale, and TI SoCs.

Stated Art Landro, EVP, Worldwide Field Operations for MontaVista, "Although Android offers a well-integrated framework that offers the advanced functionality required for mobile products, like most open source projects it's not the commercial quality our customers are used to working with."


MontaVista's Android Commercialization Services are available now, says the company, which did not offer further details about the services or this week's Android seminars.

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