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Study: Linux to lead smartphone growth

Mar 2, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Growth in the smartphone market over the next five years will be led by Linux, says a study by In-Stat. In addition, the total share of the handset market held by smartphones will double to about 20 percent by 2013, predicts the research firm.

(Click for larger view of the Linux/Android fueled HTC Magic)

Linux (including Android) will not only show the fastest growth over the coming years, but also deliver the second highest volume behind Symbian by 2013, says In-Stat. Linux “will outpace Windows Mobile, RIM, and iPhone OSX,” the company forecast.

Palm's Linux-based
Palm Pre

(Click for details)

According to the study, almost a third of all consumer respondents predicted they would buy a smartphone the next time they upgraded their mobile handset. The strong growth for smartphones will be led by the U.S. market, where demand for the high-end handsets “grew by a factor of five from the levels found between 2005 and 2007,” says the study.

Other findings released from the study include the assertion that the lack of security on smartphone platforms will be a growing problem for the format. Another potential challenge, indicated by recent studies of iPhone users, is that customers are downloading relatively few smartphone applications. Despite these and other challenges, In-Stat joins other recent analyses in predicting that smartphones will blaze through the recession relatively unscathed.

“Strong demand is being driven by device manufacturers leveraging open OS devices to re-invent the mobile phone experience,” stated Frank Dickson, VP, Mobile Internet Group at In-Stat. “New and prospective smartphone buyers are drawn to new mobile applications, even though the median number of applications downloaded for all platforms, including the Apple iPhone, is relatively modest–below five applications per user for each platform.”

Azingo's LiMo-compliant
Azingo Mobile stack
will run on a
Vodafone smartphone

(Click for details)

Linux smartphone contenders pile on

Beyond the prediction that Linux would lead smartphone growth, In-Stat had no details to offer on market share, nor did it indicate which flavor of Linux phones would lead the way. In addition to the Google-sponsored Android specification, which is available on the T-Mobile-sold HTC G1, and soon, the Vodafone-destined HTC Magic (pictured at top), several other Android phones are due this year from manufacturers including Samsung and Motorola.

The LiMo (Linux Mobile) Foundation specification is also showing signs of a major push for smartphones. The group announced a new R2 release that more fully supports an iPhone like multimedia touchscreen experience. In addition to the current crop of Motorola, NEC, and Panasonic LiMo-compliant phones, most of which do not fit into newer definitions of the term “smartphone,” more advanced LiMo phones are expected from other vendors this year, including LG and Samsung. Six major carriers have recently announced they will be shipping LiMo compliant phones this year, including world leader Vodafone.

Nuvifone G60

(Click for details)

Outside the Android and LiMo camps, meanwhile, an upcoming Palm Pre phone (pictured farther above) from Palm runs its own independent new WebOS Linux distribution. In addition, Garmin-Asus will soon ship an independent Linux Nuvifone G60 (pictured at right), and an Android version is rumored to be scheduled for a future release.

The In-Stat study is said to cover the following topics:

  • Forecasts and market shares for smartphone OS sales to 2013
  • Global sales of smartphones by region
  • Global upside potential and threats to the smartphone market
  • Approaches to ensure security of smartphones and cellphones
  • End-user research of non-users of smartphones
  • Buying behavior for different smartphone platforms
  • Non-user interest in buying smartphones
  • Changes in attitudes regarding preferences for features and applications


The In-Stat report, “Smartphones: Heading to the Mainstream,” is available now for $3,500, says the research firm. More information may be found here.

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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