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Apple, not Windows, is Linux's prime competitor on smart phones, according to a top Linux representative.

Jim Zemlin has told suits reading BusinessWeek that with its declining market share Windows is an also-ran in mobile computing and Linux has emerged as the main competitor to Apple.

The Linux Foundation's executive director reckons it's now Apple versus everyone else:

We're moving to a tech world with Apple on one side and virtually everyone else on the other. Linux needs to more effectively compete with Steve Jobs and the magic of Apple. It's important that open-source products add more value for users than simply being free.

Echoing Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth, Zemlin warned open sourcers their software needs to out-Apple Apple on design and functionality, and they can't bury themselves in the cryptic commands and poor user interfaces that typified Linux since it exploded in the 1990s.

"Open-source software also needs to be fabulous," he said. "Mobile Linux vendors must increase their technical investments by working on key open-source projects to make every component used in Linux devices benefit the user experience. That includes making devices boot up faster, connect better, and display graphics more smoothly."

Zemlin belives Apple is fated to go the way of Sun Microsystems, which also believed it could beat Linux by controlling the full hardware and software stack.

You can read Zemlin's full article here. ®

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