Linux For Phones Still Mostly MIA

For a few years now, articles extolling the virtues of Linux for mobile phones have been a regular feature of the tech and business press, and for a few years the observation has been that Linux proponents had better get a move on, with Linux phones still pretty thin on the ground outside China. This month, it’s BusinessWeek’s turn to talk up Linux, repeating much of the hypespeak: it’s cheap, it’s powerful and it’s got a ready army of experienced application developers. Those benefits are debatable, and the promise of using Linux as a standardized OS across multiple manufacturers falls apart when all those manufacturers turn to proprietary extensions to make the OS work on phones. Of course, solving that is much of the thrust of the OSDL’s Mobile Linux initiative, but as one analyst said in the wake of its announcement, mobile Linux remains more promise than delivery. Symbian, and to a lesser degree, Windows Mobile are already shipping in volume, with Symbian really beginning to make inroads into the mid-range and mass market, and Java OS like BlackBerry’s and SavaJe’s are growing as well. If Linux is going to go anywhere, it needs to do it quickly.

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