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Linux Proving Disruptive In Smartphone Market

Android will run a third of the world's smartphones by 2015, and open source mobile operating systems from Intel, Nokia, and Samsung will also compete, says ABI Research.

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Linux-based smartphones using Google's Android operating system will comprise 33% of the worldwide smartphone market by 2015, according to ABI Research.

More than 60,000 smartphones ship per day and the Android has leaped ahead of other Linux mobile platforms, said Victoria Fodale, a senior analyst at the firm.

"Due to its low cost and ability to be easily modified, Linux in the mobile market today is nearly as disruptive as Linux was in server markets a decade ago," said Fodale.

Interest in the Android among handset makers and mobile operators stems from its flexibility, said Fodale, and the fact that the OS can be modified so that OEMs can differentiate their products. She added that the Android's licensing terms also allow vendors to innovate while still protecting proprietary work.

But while Google has achieved early momentum, Android still has competition from industry players that include Intel and Nokia, Fodale cautioned. Additionally, Samsung recently announced Bada and MeeGo, two other new Linux-based operating systems.

Fodale said in a statement that MeeGo is beneficial for carriers because it provides a platform for services that is not tightly controlled by an incumbent vendor. "One of the key challenges for MeeGo will be the development of a rich service and application ecosystem, and whether or not the developer community will embrace the OS,'' she said. "Without a solid library of applications, the MeeGo platform will have a difficult time competing with smartphones offered by providers already in possession of a strong library of application offerings," like Apple and Google.

With Bada, Samsung is targeting the lower-price tier of the smartphone market, Fodale said. The ability to deploy Bada on both real-time operating system (RTOS) and Linux kernels, she said, "gives the Bada platform the benefit of a large total available market. Also, Samsung can leverage its existing handset business and carrier relationships with Bada." But Fodale added that it is unlikely that other vendors will want to offer handsets with an OS branded by another company.