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Report examines Linux’s potential in mobile phones

Apr 10, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

All tier one mobile phone manufacturers are “involved with Linux on some level,” with openness, flexibility, and developer affinity rather than cost driving interest, IMS Research reports. Additionally, the high variability of separate vendors' implementations will not impede Linux adoption over the long term, according to the firm's latest research.

The findings are summarized from an IMS Research market research report entitled “The Impacts of Cellular Linux.” The study found that Linux can help some companies bring products to market faster, at lower cost, while other companies experience delays and cost overruns.

The IMS report noted that Linux is really only a kernel, rather than a complete operating system. As a result, implementations vary widely.

Linux's variability makes it unique among mobile phone OSes in supporting both smartphones and lower-end feature phones. However, the downside is fragmentation and application incompatibility — a problem that Linux mobile phone developers will continue to address, IMS said. The research firm does not believe fragmentation will seriously impede Linux adoption in the long run, it said.

IMS found that manufacturers investing in Linux tend to be those that have experienced “a significant financial impact” from internal fragmentation related to legacy device OSes and applications. Linux is seen as reducing initial investment, while allowing users to leverage existing applications, and mix-and-match legacy, commercial, and open source software.

The IMS summary finding paper concluded, “The key word is 'potential.' There are currently a lot of potential upsides as well as potential downsides.”

IMS's summary finding paper listed up- and down-sides of Linux as a mobile phone software platform as follows:

  • Advantages:
    1. Reduced vendor lock-in
    2. Cost
    3. Product differentiation
    4. Reduced time-to-market
    5. Software re-use
    6. Developer affinities
    7. Uses fewer resources
    8. Performance
    9. Stability
    10. Ease of use

  • Disadvantages:
    1. Fragmentation and interoperability
    2. Consistency
    3. Cost
    4. Legal/ regulatory concerns
    5. Limited value
    6. Power management
    7. Memory management
    8. Security
    9. Development tools
    10. Lack of marketing assistance and training

IMS Research is based in Wellingborough, U.K., with analysts in Austin, Tex. and Shanghai, China. More details about the company's report, “The Impacts of Cellular Linux” can be found on its website, here.

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