Chip heads drive Linux mobile challenge

Apple and Microsoft share foe

Linux

Back in the day, Microsoft was the new kid on the block when it came to mobile devices like PDAs, munching up Palm's market share and tweaking the interest of application providers already familiar with Windows and Microsoft's applications.

Today, the descendants of Microsoft's Windows CE, Windows Mobile and Smartphone, are the ones getting left behind as Apple's iPhone proves one of the main catalysts for action in the mobile sector.

The iPhone edged ahead of handsets from all other hardware manufacturers that run Windows in the world market for smart mobile devices during the fourth quarter. All that in a relatively short time. Apple came third, behind Nokia and RIM.

But Apple can't afford to be complacent. The iPhone, along with Windows, will soon be under siege from a plethora of Linux-based mobile devices, thanks to those chaps in the chip sector.

Intel has released the latest edition, version 1.3, of its Mobile Platform Software Developers Kit (SDK) that comes with added Linux support. The previous version had only worked on Windows. The SDK is also released under a BSD license - replacing the Apache license - to emphasize its open source credentials and to gain broad appeal.

UK mobile device chip designer ARM, whose designs are found in the majority of mobile devices across the planet, is expected to become one of the first to bring Google's Android to hardware reality when it unveils a prototype Gphone at next week's massive Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. ARM products already support Linux platforms - the basis of Android - in addition to Microsoft Embedded CE and the Symbian operating system.

The Linux Mobile Foundation (LiMo), meanwhile, this week said that it is on track to release version one of its Linux-based mobile platform in March.®

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