By 2003, Motorola will launch a Linux-based mobile phone, the first of a long series. The announcement of the choice made in favor of the Open Source operating system arrived yesterday from the same company from Schaumburg.
'We plan to sell millions of units of this type of cellphone,' said Scott Durschalg, head of strategy and market development. 'And I think that in the future all our range, including the low-end one, will adapt to this technology.'
The first mobile phone with Linux will be the Motorola A760, a high-end device with a digital camera, MP3 and video player and the ability to run programs in Java. The A760 will go on sale by the summer in Asia and later in Europe and the USA.
Linux used that of Montavista, a company that focuses precisely on the use of the Open Source system in the embedded field.
Remember that Motorola is also part of the consortium that promotes Symbian, an operating system designed specifically for mobile phones which today already controls 46% of the market and which could reach 56% by 2006.
The choice of Motorola for Linux, as Durschlag himself points out, determined by two factors: the speed with which, thanks to the Open Source community, improvements can be made to the operating system and the possibility of creating programs in Java.
Just compatibility with Java could be, according to John Jackson of Yankee Group interviewed by C / Net, the incentive factor of greater weight. 'In fact, we are faced with a Java phone that runs on Linux.' An opinion shared by Stacey Quandt of the Giga Group "The applications developed in Java leave the phone relatively isolated from the underlying operating system". Motorola is part of a consortium that has been defining precise parameters for the use of Java in mobile phones. Nokia, Vodafone, Samsung, NTT Docomo and the same Symbian join the consortium. In practice, therefore, applications written for the A760 should be able to run on any cell phones that also use other OS, minimizing development costs.
In any case Motorola, despite being one of the main protagonists of the mobile market and a brand that will give visibility to Linux, may not have many 'followers' in its choice. The Open Source operating system, according to some market surveys, should not conquer more than 4.5% of sales by 2006, preceded not only by the aforementioned Symbian, by Microsoft (27%) and PalmOS (10%). The only major player in the phone market who has announced plans for mobile phones with Linux NEC at the moment