No Buy-In for Access Linux: A Bad Sign for Mobile Linux?

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 15, 2008

Are we about to see more competitors pulling out of the mobile Linux race? Recently, researchers at J. Gold and Associates produced a report predicting that Google's Linux-based Android platform would merge with the new and open source mobile platform from Symbian,  pitting two huge Goliaths (Google and Nokia) against any Davids who might dare to produce Linux-based handsets. While it's pure speculation that that might ever happen, a sign of weakening confidence on the mobile Linux front has appeared: The Access Linux Platform's initial and only smartphone project was recently rubbished. Orange is bailing on its plan to deliver a Samsung smartphone running Access Linux.

Orange actually made its decision at the end of July, but there has been nearly no analysis on it. Access Linux, of course, is considered by many to be a minor player in the growing effort to deliver Linux-based phones. On the non-proprietary side of the smartphone war, the LiMo Foundation's Linux platform, a newly open sourced Symbian, and Google's Android are the most focused on platforms.

Still, the amount of competition and fragmentation in this race has caused many observers to question whether some of the big players involved may start to scare the smaller players. In addition to some good thoughts on whether Google's Android is closer than we think, Matt Asay had this to say about the reported possibility of a Google/Symbian hookup: "Having Google's brand behind Symbian could very well mean 'game over' for mobile Linux in the mobile phone market." That's true, and even without such a hookup, a small player such as Access Linux on the mobile Linux front has to think carefully about which platform or platforms are going to succeed.

If we see any more folks resigning on this front, I predict they'll be handset makers backing the LiMo platform. There are more than 30 handsets announced for that platform at this point.

As seen in this post, the LiMo Foundation has said it will not back down from Google, and points out that Nokia is a member of the LiMo Foundation. Google has also pooh-poohed the idea of a mash-up with Symbian. Still, there is scary competition shaping up in this arena, and the LiMo Foundation needs buy-in from the handset makers.  Those handset makers could bail as unceremoniously as Orange did. 

What did Orange's PR firm have to say about the decision to resign? It cryptically attributed it to "a number of advances in mobile technology." Right, gotcha.