Motorola picks Linux for phone of the future
The fact that Motorola is selling its stake in Symbian (the corporation) doesn't mean that Motorola is stopping selling Symbian (the software) in its phones.
But it does mean that Motorola thinks the future in phone software is elsewhere. Linux, to be precise.
The company will be carrying on with its licensing of Symbian, with a Symbian-based 3G phone, the A920, shipping in the next weeks into the UK. But the Chinese Government's focus is on Linux, and they expect to see Linux as the operating system in everything.
Not only is China potentially, the world's largest mobile phone market, but it's also where most phones are built.
Even more significantly, it's where the next generation of all mobile devices will be based, thinks Motorola; a small empire called Linux, China will rule the world.
Back in July, the "Open PDA" was announced as a joint venture, by Motorola and Metrowerks - a software tool maker which Motorola owns - for the i.MX1 microprocessor. Open PDA is a development solution based on Linux, "for the creation of next generation wireless devices".
"The platform and silicon combine to help developers significantly shorten design cycles and speed time to market," Motorola said at the time, failing to mention the low royalty fees involved.
"The OpenPDA Development Studio for the Motorola i.MX1 eliminates the need for manual integration of the kernel, device drivers, applications and middleware required for the creation of wireless devices," said the July announcement.
The processor is yet another ARM derivative, already a player in the PDA market. But if the partnership with the Chinese Government takes off, the OpenPDA could take over from both PocketPC and Palm.
Right now, Motorola is sticking to the one universal platform - Java - which runs on all existing phones and PDAs, whatever OS - and that's the angle the corporate publicity spin suggests. It's true: in February, Motorola announced its first Linux-powered handset, which uses Java technology. It has done a deal with Microsoft, though no phone has appeared yet - but when it does, it will support Java apps. And it is carrying on with the Java-supporting Symbian phone range. But what matters, is Linux.
The deal with Symbian is simple enough; Motorola owns nearly 20 per cent, and Nokia is expected to buy the majority of that, while Psion, the parent of Symbian, will buy the rest. ®
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