A Linux smartphone that does Bluetooth

IBM makes persuasive pervasive case (at last)

With Qualcomm more preoccupied by pumping out press releases than modern phone chipsets, it isn't possible to buy a CDMA 1x phone that does Bluetooth here in the US, we noted here.

But a former Qualcomm employee, with the backing of IBM, has created a Swiss Army knife of a smartphone which boasts biometrics, Bluetooth on a smartphone/PDA that runs on Linux.

CDL's Paron is a practical industrial handheld capable of using GPRS 2.5G packet data networks, runs Opera and Trolltech Qtopia-based embedded applications, and boasts a biometric fingerprint sensor, 320x240 color screen and USB. It's also a phone.

The IBM influence is evident from the inclusion of DB2 and Websphere client software. The Paron was co-developed with IBM's Rochester lab. CDL already markets a Bluetooth access point and is building up a coherent wireless infrastructure, which you can read about here.

You can also read Rich Lehrbaum's excellent summary at LinuxDevices here.

Pervasive computing made real? Quite possibly. The official GPL Linux Bluetooth stack BlueZ rarely gets a mention, but it's mature, highly regarded, and one of the most strategic weapons in the software libre arsenal.

And CDL is another example of a start-up innovating around the Qualcomm monoculture. Thanks to lower economies of scale, CDMA phone manufacturers must pay a premium for their chipsets over the more popular GSM-based chipsets, which come from a choice of suppliers. (Think Wintel vs Apple economics).

But innovation can't wait, and it's refreshing to see start-ups providing the impetus for new wireless products and services that Qualcomm - engaged in fighting a pointless trade war - doesn't seem to think are a priority. Qualcomm isn't lacking in brainpower or expertise, but appears to be as conducive to innovation as IBM was when faced with the PC industry in the mid-1980s.

Embattled shareholders who've been promised the earth will doubtless disagree. Nirvana forever lies just around the corner. But jam today is much more interesting, we reckon. ®

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