Mozilla, ARM and Others Eyeing a New Class of Device

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 18, 2008

I read with interest this item, along with analysis from Matt Asay about Mozilla, ARM, MontaVista Software and four other companies working together on a new category of device. The partners envision devices that sit between smartphones and laptops, and they sound very much like the Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC) tablets, such as the ones Nokia makes. In light of the fierce competition shaping up for mobile open source platforms, this may be good news.

While most of the truly tooth-and-nail mobile open source competition we're going to see will come from smartphones based on the Symbian, LiMo and Google Android platforms, smartphones aren't necessarily the only space where we'll see competition. In fact, Nokia's n800-series UMPC tablet systems have been based on open source for a long time. They haven't been huge hits but they're popular with some users.

The new device from the seven partners might be on sale by early 2009, according to Softpedia. Their story also makes this good point about the difference between this new effort and Nokia's tablet strategy: "Arm Inc. is creating a completely open platform that will be shared with the open-source community ." If it is completely open that could draw the interest of developers.

I've used several UMPCs, and although I wouldn't use one as my primary portable device, they're good for roaming use of the web, and more. Mozilla may very well be contributing its Fennec mobile browser, or a variation on it, for this new class of portable device. Maybe the much-heralded competition among open source mobile platforms will expand out from smartphone territory.