Friday, May 9, 2003
Posted by Andy Sjostrom in "THE COMPETITION" @ 01:54 AM
As some of you may know, I have been looking at Linux in mobile devices for a while and at the meeting I shared a few of my thoughts on that subject. First, I would like to thank everyone that helped me during the process of learning and analyzing. I have had a good deal of great e-mail exchanges with many of you. Thank you! Read on to learn about what my own, personal analysis is.
In brief summary, my own, personal analysis on what is going on in the mobile device market is that it continues to be extremely competitive, that Palm is soon out of the big picture and that Linux joins Symbian and Microsoft in the mobile devices platform battle. I believe that Linux will start to appear in both data- and voice centric devices in volume within 12 months, but not without really tough and inherent challenges. The Linux players need to overcome the challenges of coordinating a disparate open source community, hardware innovation and commercial production. This might happen eventually as major market players such as Motorola, Matsushita and Sony (the two latter in partnership) and others are now moving resources and efforts from other platforms to Linux. Their goals are as it seems toprepare data centric products and services to corporate customers that are standardizing on Java primarily and Linux secondarily, make voice centric consumer devices which they control from hardware specification and platform perspectives and become one de facto mobile device platform standard owner and thereby gaining control and potential licensing revenues.
Hardware innovation is beginning to take place, despite the fact that Linux in mobile devices has just begun its journey. As on the desktop and server side, there are a number of available Linux distributions and as on the desktop and server side some are more popular than others. Over time, more and more users and developers make their choices leading to higher concentrations of efforts around fewer distributions.
Linux key to distribution insulation is Java. By developing the core source code in Java, the efforts to move the code base across distributions can be manageable. Linux based devices will come in many shapes and forms including the typical data centric PDAs, voice centric cell phones and forms within the hybrid grounds in between. Most devices are currently under development and have not gone into commercial production. From a volume perspective, currently only Motorola seems to have devices lined up for mass production. Users of Linux devices have a number of third party applications to choose from. Handango is a common source of commercial applications, and Linux has ten times more the amount of applications in comparison with Nokia 7650.
It won’t be an easy ride for Linux into this market. Linux has a lot to prove, a vast amount of challenges to overcome and success is not automatic. However, I believe that chances are that we’ll see Linux kill Palm in the mid term future and challenge both Symbian and Microsoft in the long term future. Exciting times ahead!