Can Linux Take 20 Percent of the Mobile Market?
Earlier this year, at the Mobile World Congress conference, there were more than 20 new mobile phones based on Linux announced, most of them using the LiMo platform. Google's Android solution is also stoking the fire, and promises to bring much open source technology to mobile handsets. Now, ABI Research has a report out predicting that as soon as 2010, 20 percent of mid- and high-end mobile devices will run a Linux operating system.
According to the ABI report, a big part of the reason why Linux and open source hold so much promise on mobile platforms is cost:
"Linux OS solutions will be far more cost-effective than incumbent solutions, even when silicon requirements are taken into account, given that a fuller application layer will be included in the standard package and that the burden of customization falls mostly on the independent software vendor."
Linux-based phones are not new. Motorola, Samsung and others have introduced them, and have had limited success with them. However, the LiMo platform is seen as much better performing and more flexible than previous mobile platforms based on Linux. Big players like Nokia, with its open source visionary Ari Jaaksi, are also very focused on better open source tools for mobile devices. Nokia's support of Maemo, an Internet Tablet OS based on Debian Linux, also points to progress for many mobile devices.
What would really lock in a promising future for Linux on mobile devices would be moves by makers of popular open source applications to customize them for mobile platforms. For example, Mozilla chief Mitchell Baker is expected by many to reveal later this week at the Web 2.0 conference whether a version of Firefox will arrive for Android.
There's much more motion in this area, too. Check out Matt Asay's excellent analysis for more.
Do you think Linux has a bright future on mobile platforms?