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Red Bend Unveils Concept Linux Cell Phone

The handset, called Mast, is based on Trolltech's Qtopia application Linux platform.

Red Bend Software on Tuesday introduced a Linux-based mobile phone that can be customized and updated with software and applications over-the-air.

Red Bend, a developer of firmware over-the-air mobile client software, partnered with several companies, including Digital Airways, Opera Software, Synchronica, Trolltech and Zi to create the necessary components for the phone, called Mast.

Mast is based on Trolltech's Qtopia application Linux platform and is implemented on Trolltech's Qtopia Greenphone, according to Red Bend. Qtopia is considered next-generation because it supports advanced technologies like unified communications, which links business processes with presence information, e-mail, voice mail, instant messaging, and videoconferencing, to facilitate efficient communications.

Earlier this week, the world's No. 1 phone maker Nokia announced plans to acquire Trolltech for $153 million. Trolltech's understanding of open source software is what attracted Nokia, which will use the Qtopia platform in its Ovi Web portal.

As part of the partnership with Red Bend, Synchronica is providing the Device Management Server for securely provisioning software on Mast phones. Meanwhile, Red Bend is supplying its vRapid Mobile platform for updating, adding, and removing individual embedded software components.

Red Bend said it tapped the other partners to demonstrate how software and services can be deployed and updated over-the-air on phones. For example, Opera's mobile browser can be updated using vRapid Mobile without revising the entire firmware image. Opera is a provider of Web technologies for mobile devices and released the latest version of its Opera Mini mobile browser in November.

Digital Airways has developed a Kaleido user interface that can be customized with different services when existing subscribers to carriers' networks insert their SIM card in a new phone. Zi's is offering dual-language messaging on phones through its eZiText application.

While Mast holds a lot of promise, it's only a concept phone for now. It will be showcased at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month.

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