British mobile phone operator Vodafone and Japan's NTT DoCoMo joined handset makers Motorola, Samsung, NEC and Panasonic on Thursday to announce the creation of a joint group for developing an open-source Linux-based operating system. This comes amidst Microsoft's plans for a big push for its mobile platform.
They said the independent not-for-profit group would share the costs.
The move is aimed at speeding up mobile software development and cutting handset costs, they said. A common, Linux-based platform would also reduce the number of operating platforms, they claimed. The new system is expected to be ready by end-2007.
While mobile technology has made great leaps, development costs have been mounting for mobile devices that use operating systems for applications like loading text messages and video and music. The existence of diverse computer codes has only complicated the process of delivering new add-on facilities.
Currently, Linux software only has a tiny presence in the mobile space, mainly in China, while market leaders Symbian and Microsoft dominate. A wider use of the Linux-based operating system is expected to reduce costs for both software developers and handset makers.
Since the Linux code is not owned by any one company, it can imcrease competition among firms supplying ready-made mobile phone solutions, thereby pushing down handset prices.
Currently, Symbian is ahead of Microsoft in developing software for advanced wireless devices like hand-held computers and mobile phones. Sales of Symbian-powered phones have more than doubled for four straight years now. Symbian has so far developed software for over 100 handset models and over 250 phone companies.