Android alternative delivers partial Linux package
Supporters spread bets
Although release 1.0 - announced at CTIA in Las Vegas, Nevada - provides a basic mobile Linux platform, it comes with limitations. It includes C and C++ versions of the middleware software development kit. Those who want Native, Webkit and Java SDK's will have to wait until later in the year.
Release 1.0 also falls short of one of LiMo's main goals - full application portability across mobile Linux devices - and it provides only limited multimedia features. Both of these problems should be resolved in release 2.0, due to be published in late 2008 and completed early in 2009.
LiMo's goal is to deliver a hardware independent, Linux based mobile platform that’s capable of overcoming the complex maze of different handset specifications. Version 1.0 came as analyst Strategy Analytics claimed 25 million Linux-based cellphones have shipped worldwide to date with Linux accounting for 15 per cent of the smartphone market.
Linux currently is apparently "well poised" to succeed in the smartphone market thanks to its potential for customization, its relatively low cost, strong presence in the developer community, security and fact Linux is supported by multiple chipsets.
The big question is, of course, which Linux will fare best, given there are two major efforts underway? LiMo has been around since January 2007, its grown from a core membership of six carriers and handset providers, and seen 18 handsets produced. The Google-led Android, though, is challenging LiMo. Android has generated a great deal of interest and attracted 34 official backers since it was kicked off almost a year later by Google.
Interestingly, a growing band of companies that includes Motorola, Samsung, NTT DoCoMo and Broadcom are backing both Android and LiMo. This indicates the handset makers, carriers and semiconductor makers responsible for today’s confusing diversity of hardware and services are spreading their bets, waiting to see which succeeds or potentially helping both in different markets.
Texas Instruments this week became the latest to commit to both, announcing it had joined LiMo as a board member. The hardware and chip manufacturer, already a member of the Open Handset Alliance backing Android, said it shared LiMo’s commitment to “new avenues of choice.” ®
For all the news on the CTIA Wireless trade show see our CTIA roundup.
To clarify: yes i know linux is a kernel. 'Look everyone, i have the latest linux kernel on my phone and i compiled it myself ..' Big whoop. My question is : can you dial a number ? can i talk to someone at the other side of the connection ? Can the phone connect to my bluetooth earpiece ? Will i be able to sync my addressbook to Opera / Outlook / Firefox / Iceweasel ?
That is what i'm getting at. It looks to me that, instead of finishing a complete working phone (and i couldn't care less what kernel you use. The purpose of a phone is to dial a number and be able to talk to someone. ) they are taking of in different directions and focussing ont he wrong things first.
First get the phone working. Once that's done focus on the phonebook , then add support for bluetoooth earpiece. Then deal on syncing phonebooks .. get the FUNCTIONALITY operational first ! When all that is done you can deal with the bloody eyecandy and glitz. Then i don't care what fancy colorsceme , java applets , browsers, music and video players, ringtone downloaders and other stuff you come up with.
All is see coming out of the 'linux world' is endless discussions about wether to use vi or emacs or kde vs gnome and what flashy fancy new coloursceme/gui/eyecandy they came up with. It's an order of magnitude worse than microsoft ! (they only upgrade their 'look' once every 5 years or so ...) I don't need the vista aero interface, heck i don't need the XP interface.. The Win2k 'style' works for me. It has buttons i can click on that do stuff...
That's where i applaud google's initiative. They give you the platform that has the phone part down and deals with all the hardware stuff. Now go and be creative with it. Take this free platform and make some applications i can install that make the phone usefull.
I have a windows mobile base phone (Samsung Blackjack ) it does everything i need. i can dial a number or look it up in the phonebook , it works with my bluetooth earpiece, it works with my handsfree bluetooth in the car. i can sync my contacts with outlook (and indirectly with opera) i can read google mail ( thank you google for the free gmail app ) it runs google maps. i have opera mini installed (on the odd case i need to get on the web to find the closest starbucks) i have iSilo installed so i can read text while on the plane. if i need a quick picture of my scribblings on the whiteboard in the meetingroom the camera works fine. It's got a calendar and i even have GPS software running on it that talks to a bluetooth gps module i got cheap (50 $).
It works for what i need it to work. When i come home i push the OFF button anyway. My phone is a work instrument. If you can give me the same functionality on a cheaper phone ( linux is cheaper then the windows mobile licence ) that has a longer battery life i will definitely buy one. But 45 $ for a blackjack (with a 2 year contract ) will be VERY hard to beat.
Anyway, long rant-n-rave. But again what i'm getting at is : join al the developers up to build tha working phone PLATFORM first. Then i don;t care if everybody goes a different way and designs different ui's and applications. Diversity is good as long as the foundations is there.
Do not compare android with a half finished project on sourceforge.
This isn't you mate fred from down the pub doing a spot of coding at the weekend.
These are professional software developers, do not expect lots of half finished linux based phone distros.
How is this different from what we have today?
In the world of mobile handsets, there are MANY different implementations today, all with different foundations, features and availability. It doesn't really matter WHAT the underlying platform is: the resulting utility to the end user is what sells a platform.
As far as I can tell, it's not so much the underlying platform that determines what a mobile device can do, but the hardware limitations. Small screens, limited input devices, cost to consumer are all far more important in device limitations that the underlying software. And the carrier/vendor desires for profit and option sell-through are a much bigger factor in determining exactly what is delivered to customers than any software limitation.
A Linux solution is desirable for all parties involved (well, except for Microsoft) because it makes the cost of feature-function addition much lower than a proprietary solution. And, as Dr. Mouse points out above, regardless of the underlying distro, porting an application from one distro to another is usually much easier than creating it anew.
Unfortunately, the most important missing piece is the ability to take *ANY* handset and use it on *ANY* network. (Don't worry: I know why this is a problem - has nothing to do with Linux.) Europeans are fortunate in that nearly all the subscriber networks are GSM-based, allowing for far more devices to connect to them than us Yanks with our fragmented GSM/CDMA/iDEN networks. But, regardless, it's all about getting a device certified and accepted by a carrier - and THAT problem hasn't even begun to raise it's head. Consider the issues that terrestrial comms have with the BBC iPlayer and its traffic, or BitTorrent traffic in the US. Each application, regardless of platform, will be a determining factor for acceptance, not the underlying OS or feature set.
Personally, I'm looking forward to the day when I can get a radio "lump" that simply acts as a voice call interface, modem and router and can dangle from my keys, then have specific other devices (like a Bluetooth headset or a Nokia 770) to perform the functions of interfaces to me as a human.
(Steps off fruit crate, picks up crate and walks off.)