Mobile
Commentary
8/12/2009
12:36 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
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Panasonic And NEC Announce Nine Phones Based On Linux

Panasonic and NEC have announced nine new cell phones that will be running the LiMo platform which is based on Linux. Does it make sense to continue to use LiMo when a powerful and feature rich platform like Android is available?

Panasonic and NEC have announced nine new cell phones that will be running the LiMo platform which is based on Linux. Does it make sense to continue to use LiMo when a powerful and feature rich platform like Android is available?These phones seem to be more feature phone than smartphone. A feature phone, at least by my definition, may have a number of very exciting features, but you cannot add functionality to your phone by installing apps, other than what someone may have written in Java. Those type of apps are usually games. A smartphone would be based on a platform that is intended to be expanded with third party apps, can sync with the cloud and has a rich set of development tools for developers.

The Reuters article has a photo of the nine phones and they seem to encompass just about all form factors - flip, clam, slider, etc.

I am not sure why a manufacturer would choose LiMo when Android is there for the taking. Perhaps because Android is designed to be a smartphone, it has higher hardware requirements. I would think though that manufacturers would factor in development costs of yet another platform into their decision making process. Can you not run a bare bones version of Android and make it more of a feature phone? This would let you keep a basic set of development tools which should cut development costs and long term maintenance.

I am sure they have done that cost analysis and LiMo came out the victor, but it just doesn't make a lot of sense to me that there are six major smartphone platforms and who knows how many feature phone platforms out there. The inefficiency of all of that has to have a cost, not the least of which is it slows down innovation and has the potential to add confusion and frustration for end users. I am not suggesting we need one platform to rule them all, but I would think a healthy market would have three or maybe four platforms.

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