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Linux Mobile Adds Products, Members In Bid To Match Symbian

The group announced Monday that it has signed 11 new member companies in recent weeks and said that the number of mobile devices running the LiMo OS now totals 21.
Faced with competition from the vastly larger and newly open-sourced Symbian Foundation, the LiMo Foundation -- which promotes Linux as a mobile operating system -- signaled that it's not about to hang up on the market for open source handsets.

The group announced Monday that it has signed 11 new member companies in recent weeks and said that the number of mobile devices running the LiMo OS now totals 21.

"The combination of LiMo's transparent governance model, balanced development model, and extensive mobile industry heritage sets it apart," said Morgan Gillis, the LiMo Foundation's executive director, in a statement.

Motorola, Panasonic, and NEC all introduced LiMo-based cell phones on Monday, the foundation said.

It also introduced several new partners. The list includes few household names, but its breadth indicates that LiMo continues to garner strong industry support despite the significant change in the mobile OS landscape brought by Nokia's decision in June to buy up Symbian and put its technology into the open source community.

LiMo's new members include Cellon, Esmertec, Freescale Semiconductor, Movial, Telecom Italia, and ZTE.

The question is whether it's enough to boost LiMo's market share beyond the single digits. Symbian leads the worldwide mobile OS market with a 65% stake, followed by Microsoft's 12% share, RIM's 11%, and Apple's 7%, according to research group Canalys. Linux-based systems account for only 5% of the market, the researchers said.

With its decision to go open source, Symbian -- and its network of blue-chip hardware partners, some of which also belong to the LiMo camp -- may be poised to attract the lion's share of open source mobile developers. If that happens, the number of available applications for the LiMo platform could stagnate.

Symbian strategy VP John Forsyth in June told InformationWeek that "we want to make this the most widely used operating system on the planet." The Symbian Foundation now includes AT&T, Motorola, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Vodafone. InformationWeek's full report on Symbian's open source move can be downloaded here (registration required).

Of course, it's not just the Symbian Foundation with which LiMo must compete for a larger share of the mobile OS market. Microsoft continues to enhance its Windows Mobile offering, and Google -- which is backing the Android platform -- has been long rumored to be working on a phone of its own.