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Linux set to dominate mobile market by 2015

New analyst’s report predicts a bright future for Linux mobile market with a 62% share expected by the year 2015. Rory MacDonald investigates…

Analyst group ABI Research has predicted that Linux will account for over 62 per cent of the market for non-smartphone mobile devices by 2015. “The number of Linux-oriented initiatives recently seen in the mobile industry indicates that Linux will be a key technology in the next generation of netbooks, media tablets, and other mobile devices,” commented the report’s author Victoria Fodale.

In its report, the group states its belief that despite the growing number of Linux variants in the mobile devices market, their unification around a base of upstream components gives vendors the best possible outcome of sharing costs whilst still differentiating their offerings to the market place.

An increasing number of commentators are drawing attention to the way in which Linux allows smartphone and mobile device vendors to both differentiate their offerings and respond to user feedback. This is being contrasted to proprietary Windows mobile platforms, which tie vendors into homogeneity and a complete reliance on Microsoft for ongoing innovation and response to customer demand.

Confirming ABI’s predicted trend, Samsung has confirmed rumours that it is releasing a 7-inch Android Tablet called the ‘Galaxy Tab’ within the next few months. They will be closely followed by fellow Korean hardware vendor LG, which has also announced plans to launch its own Android tablet in the last quarter of this year. Both announcements have so far given away few details, but LG did claim that the tablet “…will deliver vastly superior performance than other similar devices currently on the market while still managing to be thinner and lighter than competing devices.”

LG would not be drawn to comment on how this announcement effects their plans for the UX10 Windows 7 based tablet announced in June at Computex.

Also included into ABI’s calculations is the future of the Linux-based Palm webOS, which Hewlett Packard (HP) has now purchased in a deal that was completed in late June. There has been a flurry of reports in the past few weeks about HP’s intentions to shelve existing plans for both a Windows 7 and an Android-based tablet in favour of webOS.

Whist HP has not confirmed these reports, the $1.2 billion paid for Palm clearly suggest that the company has serious plans for webOS, and an existing tablet hardware project would be an obvious starting point.

Meego, the operating system born out of the marriage of Nokia and Intel’s respective Linux projects, has also pointed the way to another growth market for Linux in the mobile device space. In July, the Linux Foundation, which now hosts the MeeGo project, announced that the Genivi Alliance has chosen MeeGo as the basis of its next reference release for In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI).

Genivi is a non-profit industry alliance with founding members BMW Group, Delphi, GM, Intel, Magneti-Marelli, PSA, Visteon and Wind River. The group collaborate on building common reference products, from which the members then develop their own custom IVI devices.

“We selected MeeGo as the open source basis for our platform because it is technically innovative and can provide the cross architecture build support we require for our references,” said Graham Smethurst, President of Genivi. “Working with MeeGo we expect to establish a solution that effectively merges IVI needs with those of the other MeeGo target device categories.”

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