By Jason Whitmire
All will agree that mobile Linux suffers from fragmentation today, and that fragmentation
• creates significant challenges to Linux adoption in mobile phones (lack of interoperability et. al.)
• presents barriers to innovation
• increases the carrier cost to Linux terminal deployment.
For Linux to succeed in the mobile market, we need to minimize fragmentation and its resulting incompatibility. In the early days of the PC revolution, this type of incompatibility was similarly rampant, and the Wintel monopoly provided the standard. More importantly, the Wintel monopoly created the incentive to rally around the standard.
But suggesting that the industry set up Google as the mobile Linux gatekeeper, including issuing all the keys to the various feature phone middleware/applications framework kingdoms (which account for about 90% of all phones deployed today), to take on the monumental role of software guardian for mobile Linux, is possibly antithetical to the open source movement, regardless of Google’s motto. And perhaps this is not the role that Google ultimately seeks in the mobile market. Indeed, there are multiple thrusts to Google’s mobile terminal strategy, all of which are underpinned by the principle of radically improving the efficiency and experience of the end-user’s mobile internet time.
That’s why the market needs LIMO as well as the Open Handset Alliance.
Google has the muscle to help rein in fragmentation forays from OEMs
and operators, and has chosen the Android platform as they key vehicle
to accomplish this ambitious goal. At the same time, the mobile
market-based backing of LIMO is needed to keep the ‘open’ in open
source. Indeed, LIMO is building baseline technology that will be
openly shared among what many Tier 1 OEMs expect to be a platform
standard for the feature phone segment. This effort could dovetail
nicely with the Open Handset Alliance’s Android platform, which is
attracting significant interest from application developers eager to
take advantage of the Android SDK.
Might this lead to continued fragmentation,
rather than unification around a mobile Linux standard? What is needed
now is for the mutual members of the two consortia to help forge the
bridge between the two, so that both fulfill their technological and
market roles and extend benefits to the overall mobile market.
Starting with areas of complementary technology, and working toward
areas of overlap until a symbiosis evolves that will benefit the entire
ecosystem, this could be a convincing way to navigate today’s many
waves of mobile Linux.
Jason Whitmire has more than 14 years of executive marketing and
management experience in semiconductor and system software. He
currently serves as General Manager of Wind River’s Mobile Solutions
business. Previously he was a managing director of FSMLabs, where he
headed the worldwide wireless and EMEA businesses, and he was head of
business development for wireless software at Infineon Technologies for
four years. Additionally, Jason has held senior product management,
marketing and business development positions at two European mobile
network operators. Jason got his start in the wireless arena in 1993
while representing the US government in international spectrum and