A top provider of “firmware over-the-air” (FOTA) upgrade technology has joined a vendor alliance aimed at creating highly integrated Linux mobile phone software stacks. Red Bend Software has joined MontaVista's Mobilinux Open Framework partner program, and will optimize its FOTA product for deployment on Linux-based mobile phones, it says.
Red Bend, and FOTA
MontaVista describes Red Bend as a “market-leading provider” of FOTA upgrade technology, with a customer base representing more than half of the global handset market. Red Bend customers include BenQ Mobile (formerly Siemens Mobile), LG Electronics, Sharp, and Sony Ericcson.
Red Bend has already succeeded in demonstrating its FOTA technology on the Linux OS, MontaVista says. It will work further with MontaVista and other Mobilinux partners to ensure integration and compatibility.
Mobilinux Open Framework
MontaVista describes its Mobilinux Open Framework as a program to assist handset vendors migrating to Linux from proprietary OS platforms. The company says it encourages “best-of-breed” mobile software vendors like Red Bend to port products to MontaVista Linux, and to partner with other members of the Open Framework to create integrated “solutions” for leading semiconductor platforms. Pre-integrated solutions reduce risk and development effort for handset designers and manufacturers, it says.
Linux winning in phones?
MontaVista says uncited “industry researchers” measured Linux's penetration into the smartphone market at 26 percent in Q2, 2005, up from 6 percent in the same quarter the previous year. Large handset manufacturers and operators are successfully selling Linux-based phones in volume in Asia, with plans to penetrate other world markets, the company notes.
Gartner reported in July that Linux accounted for 14 percent of the smartphone market in Q1, 2005, up from 3.4 percent, year-over-year. It later reported a marked surge in total phone shipments in Q2, 2005.
Gartner's figures do not include PDAs with mobile phone expansion capabilities, such as those powered by Windows Mobile “Pocket PC” and Palm OS.
IDC does include PDA phone sales figures in its smartphone market research. It says Linux is essentially in a deadlock with Windows Mobile for second place, with Symbian accounting for nearly 60 percent of the smartphone OS market.
Red Bend CEO Yoram Salinger said, “We have seen a growing demand for Linux-based mobile phones, and recognize Mobilinux as an important platform. Through our work with the Mobilinux Open Framework, we are in an excellent position to deploy our FOTA solutions to new Linux-based phones as they come to market.”
MontaVista VP of Marketing Peder Ulander stated, “FOTA technology, such as that from Red Bend, is now recognized as vital to a robust mobile operating system environment.”
A MontaVista whitepaper on the rise of Linux mobile phones in Asia was published recently by EE Times Asia.
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