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Ten LiMo phones this month?

Jul 2, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Forbes has published an interview with LiMo Foundation executive director Morgan Gillis. The LiMo chief speaks out on Nokia's acquisition of Symbian, competition with Android, the fold-in of the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum, and a projected 10 new LiMo handsets to be announced this… month.

In “Coming Battle Over Open Source Phones,” Forbes reporter Elizabeth Woyke starts off by asking Gillis how LiMo will respond to Nokia's recent acquisition of Symbian, as well as its launch of a Symbian Foundation intended to make Symbian OS open source. “Directionally, it's exactly right for the industry,” Gillis reportedly answers, adding that it will help developers and content providers “write much more efficiently for handsets.”

Gillis appears to concede that an open source Symbian offers considerable competition for LiMo, but then points out that there are only “a couple hundred thousand Symbian developers” compared to “five million or so Linux developers.” He also notes that LiMo benefits from the Linux kernel, “the jewel in the crown of the open-source development world,” as he is quoted calling it. He adds that it will take time for the open source community to become familiar with a Symbian kernel that “has grown up as a proprietary item.”

Gillis argues that LiMo has a head start on licensing issues as well. “We're probably two years ahead with our governance model and licensing model,” he is quoted as saying. “The industry will likely need to see details of the Symbian approach — bylaws, documentation, that sort of thing — before deciding if it's something it can really engage with.”

Coexistence is a more likely scenario than a pitched battle between Linux and Symbian, says Gillis. He predicts that carriers will tend to deploy “two to three platforms,” and reportedly suggests that “LiMo and Symbian together will give the industry the best effect.”

Woyke did not delve into competitive issues with Windows Mobile, Apple's iPhone, or RIM's Blackberry, but she did ask about that other Linux platform: the Open Handset Alliance's Android. “We've started to see signs that Google is struggling to bring commercial [software] to market,” Gillis answers, possibly alluding to a Wall Street Journal report that Android's ship-date slipped. Gillis also contends that LiMo's licensing, which he refers to as “collaborative source,” offers advantages over both Android and the upcoming Eclipse-based Symbian OS license. The LiMo license is “not quite the same as open source and definitely not proprietary,” Gillis is quoted as saying. He also touts advantages such as a requirement that LiMo members share fixes and optimizations they create individually, as well as an agreement “not to assert patents against each other.” By contrast, he says, Symbian's license is still a work in progress, and “Google's license does not require licensees to share anything with others.”

Forbes also questions Gillis about the impact of the LiPS Forum's recent announcement that it will fold its standards-development activities and membership into LiMo. According to Gillis, the move was not, as some suggested, a response to the Nokia announcements, but was instead an attempt to help to reduce fragmentation in the industry. “Most of the existing LiPS companies will join LiMo, and its intellectual property will be transferred in as well,” he is quoted as saying. “We will be able to use that straightaway.”

Gillis adds that “another eight or 10 members” (presumably from LiPS) will join LiMo by the end of July, and that at the same time the group will announce “the next wave of handsets — up to 10 models.”

The full Forbes interview with the LiMo Foundation's Morgan Gillis may be found here.

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