Monday, August 6, 2007

Look for more Linux-based mobile devices in a Palm near you

Linux on mobile devices got a boost this week with a slew of announcements out of LinuxWorld in San Francisco.

One telling announcement came with Palm's decision to go with Wind River Systems' Linux as the platform for the upcoming Palm Foleo, the sub-compact companion for smartphones. While the Foleo was designed to be Linux-based from the get-go, the decision went to go with Wind River's device-optimized version of Linux.

Wind River will also provide its development suite, professional services, and customer support in bringing the Foleo to market. The Foleo is billed as a smart-phone adjunct that allows users to view and work on phone-based email with a larger screen and full-size keyboard. It also allows Web surfing, editing, and Power Point presentations.

Without having made a formal debut, the Foleo is receiving mixed notices from the reviewer community. ZDNet's George Ou, thinks that, while it needs some tweaking, it poses a threat to the laptop. On the other side of that fence, Alice Hill from Real Tech News thinks it's going to bomb, and gives five reasons why it will fail.

As with most new devices, only time will tell. A key to success will be bulk purchases by enterprises for their edge and remote workers. Not sure the pricey iPhone makes sense there (yet).

Meanwhile, the LiMo Foundation, which is dedicated to the adoption of Linux in the mobile device community, announced what it called "a significant membership surge," with the addition of five new core members and eight associate members.

The core members, who will participate on the board, include Aplix, Celunite, LG Electronics, McAfee, and Wind River. Associate members include ARM, Broadcom, Ericsson, Innopath, KTF, MontaVista Software, and NXP B.V.

LiMo's goal is to create the world's first globally competitive, Linux-based software platform for mobile devices, and organizers expect to see the first handsets supporting the LiMo platform on the market in the first half of 2008.

In other Linux-mobile news, Motorola and Wind River has formed a strategic alliance designed to provide integrated Advanced TCA(R) and Micro TCATM communication platforms with Carrier Grade Linux and VxWorks runtimes. This is aimed at providing bundled hardware and software solutions for telecom, military, aerospace, medical, and industrial automation.

Disclosure: Wind River has been a sponsor of BriefngsDirect podcasts, which I produce and moderate.