Razr, others designated LiMo Linux phones

The LiMo Foundation plans to announce 18 phones based on its platform, including some that are already on the market, on Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The phones come from LG Electronics Inc., Motorola Inc., NEC Corp., Panasonic Corporation of North America, Samsung Electronics Co. and others. Included among the mobile Linux phones already used by consumers are Motorola's Razr2 and Motorokr as well as a number of NTT DoCoMo Inc. handsets.

"The LiMo platform in Release 1 uses technology that the founder companies had created from two to three years ago," said Morgan Gillis, executive director of the LiMo Foundation. That means that some existing phones can now be designated as LiMo handsets, even though Release 1 isn't officially available. LiMo plans to release the first version of its open-source Linux-based operating system for mobile phones in March.

Some of the handset makers, including LG, Aplix Corp. and Purple Labs, plan to exhibit prototype and reference handsets based on LiMo at the conference. The Purple Labs reference design is a 3G (third-generation) phone designed to cost less than $100, Gillis said.

LiMo also plans to announce on Monday that it will make a software development kit (SDK) available in the second half of this year. The SDK will provide Eclipse-based tools so that developers can build software for LiMo handsets. Access, Motorola, Wind River Systems Inc. and other LiMo members are developing the SDK.

"We're hoping to empower mobile developers on a broad scale to work with us and to bring their applications and services to consumers in a direct way," said Gillis.

Despite the interest in Linux mobile phones and the variety of groups working on it, including LiMo, the LiPS (Linux Phone Standards) Forum and Google Inc.'s Open Handset Alliance, market momentum has stalled. A recent report from Canalys.com revealed that total Linux phone shipments in 2007 were essentially flat in comparison with 2006.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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