Linux Predicted To Be Fastest Growing Smartphone OS

Adoption of the open-source operating system in smartphones will rise at a compound annual growth rate of more than 75% through 2012, according to ABI Research.

Over the next five years, Linux use in smartphones worldwide will grow at a faster rate than Microsoft Windows Mobile, Symbian, and other operating systems, a research firm predicted Tuesday.

Adoption of the open-source operating system will rise at a compound annual growth rate of more than 75% through 2012, when it will account for nearly 31% of all advanced mobile phones in the market, according to the ABI Research forecast. In terms of numbers, 331 million phones will ship with Linux in 2012.

Helping to drive adoption are initiatives from companies such as chipmaker Intel and mobile Linux provider Access, ABI analyst Stuart Carlaw said. In addition, wireless carriers have identified Linux as one of the few operating systems that they intend to support in their long-term plans. "Linux is benefiting from growing support in the handset OEM community, most notably Motorola, but also Nokia with less traditional types of devices aimed at mobile broadband applications," Carlaw said in a statement.

Motorola is focusing on Java applications running on Linux as the underpinning of its smartphone services. Motorola and other handset makers are building an increasing number of devices that can download and play video and music, as well as offer messaging, Web browsing, and other capabilities.

ABI said fragmentation continues to be a concern with mobile Linux, given the many distributions. In an attempt to address the problem, some vendors have formed a collaborative project called the LiMo Foundation to develop a Linux platform with broad industry support. The alliance, founded by Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Samsung Electronics, and Vodafone Group, expects handsets using its platform to appear on the market next year.

Other issues with Linux include Microsoft's claim that Linux in its generic form infringes on 235 of its patents, ABI said. While some pundits dismiss the claims, others are less certain.

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