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SPECIAL REPORT: Five years of Motorola Linux phones

Feb 14, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Motorola launched its first Linux/Java phone five years ago today. To commemorate, we've compiled a special report recounting the strategic shifts, vendor partnerships, foundation alliances, and especially the new product launches that brought Linux from desktops and servers into Motorola's newest U9, RAZR2,… and E8 models.

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Motorola started out small with Linux, but its first-ever Linux phone was a chunky phone by today's standards. The ground-breaking A760 (pictured at right) was announced on Feb. 13, 2003 (actually Feb. 14 in Asia), and began shipping in select Asian markets in August of that year.

Motorola's most recent Linux phones were launched at the Mobile World Congress show this week in Barcelona. They include the U9, a curvy, Moderne-looking departure from the angular RAZR designs the company has seemed so pre-occupied with for so long, and a WiFi-enabled version of the Rokr Z6 music phone. Another recent model is the interesting E8, a “haptics” enabled number that morphs between camera, music player, and phone, actually changing its buttons and graphics for each mode. And, for traditionalists, there's a new $700 “Luxury Edition” of the Linux-based RAZR2 V8, complete with fake snakeskin and non-fake gold appointments.

Mot's latest three Linux phones
(l-r) the U9, E8, and Razr2 V8 Luxury Edition

(Click any for details enlarge)

So, what happened, in between the A760 and the U9? Well, phones got smaller, obviously, thanks to the ongoing miniaturization of semiconductors, innovative phone-on-module packaging, and manufacturing innovations like chip-on-film interconnects and control surfaces in place of hardware buttons. Things weren't exactly standing still on the software side, either, with Linux getting smaller, faster, faster-booting, less power-hungry, and more graphically capable. Jim Ready, founder of Motorola's OS supplier MontaVista, recollects the process here.

But that's just the short version. For the curious and those with simply too much time to kill, we've updated our SPECIAL REPORT tracing Motorola's entire grand adventure with Linux. It hasn't all been a bed of roses, to be sure. But, Motorola appears as committed as ever to the relationship, while most seem to agree that Linux looks more fetching than ever as a phone OS. Click below, to read the fully updated Valentine's Day anniversary report.

SPECIAL REPORT: Motorola adopts Linux for future mobile phones

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