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Motorola launches enterprise Linux smartphone in China

Feb 11, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Motorola has launched an embedded Linux powered A-76x-series smartphone in the China marketplace, with VPN capabilities and productivity software targeting enterprise customers. In addition to phone features, the A-768 offers a PDA, browser, MP3 music playback, full-motion video recording, speaker phone, finance… utilities, and more.

New, business-oriented features include:

  • IPSec VPN client to provide secure wireless access to corporate networks
  • Compatibility with Microsoft Office documents including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel
  • 96MB of system memory with 5 hours of voice record dictation capability
  • embedded browser and email
  • enterprise-class embedded database to rapidly store and retrieve data

Like Motorola's first smartphone powered by embedded Linux, the A760, the new A768 provides voice navigation, intelligent handwriting input, and video recording capability. It also includes an HTML browser with zoom in and zoom out capability.

Motorola calls the new A-768 a “full enterprise solution mobile device,” supporting Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, MP3, and JPG files. An embedded VPN client provides secure wireless access to corporate network resources, enabling corporate users to access protected corporate resources such as email and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) applications.

China a giant mobile market

Motorola claims to be the number one manufacturer of handsets in China, where IDC estimates there are 252.3 million current mobile telephone subscribers. By 2007, the Chinese mobile phone market is forecast to reach 371.4 million subscribers.

Wilvin Chee, IDC's Associate Director, Asia/Pacific Software Overview, said, “This market size definitely sets the stage for phenomenal opportunities in open source software adoption, particularly as the government itself has vouched strong support for open source software by deploying such software in major e-government projects.”

Motorola launched its first Linux based phone, the A760, in China on Aug. 22, 2003, saying it will use Linux in future cell phones. Motorola then sold its 19% share of ownership in Symbian.

The A-768 will compete in China with Linux-based phones from E28, as well as Samsung phones powered by Mizi Linux.

Meanwhile, in Japan, top telco NTT has said it will use Linux in both mobile phones and carrier infrastructure for its 3G mobile/data network.

Moto's open source team-mates

Embedded Linux distributor MontaVista revealed in March, 2003, that Motorola built the A-760 with MontaVista Linux, which a Motorola spokesperson called “one of the most open and flexible software platforms.”

Norwegian development tools firm Trolltech announced in September, 2003, that in developing the A-760, Motorola also used Trolltech's Qt/Embedded, a framework for user interface development.

Now, it's Sleepycat Software's turn to step forward as a key provider of open source technology for Motorola's embedded Linux based smartphones. Sleepycat says its Berkeley DB provides the A-768 smartphone with an open, flexible, and transaction-protected data manager for a number of integrated new functions, including a contacts database that can store and quickly search up to 4,000 contacts. Berkeley DB also powers a repository for downloaded files, and stores Java applications, audio, and video, according to Sleepycat.

Sleepycat says it worked closely with Motorola during the development cycle, and actually added options to Berkeley DB to enable key functions in the A-768. SleepyCat's venerable Berkeley DB, available under both commercial and a GPL-like license, currently appears in about 200,000 deployments worldwide, according to SleepyCat, including MacOS, Linux, and Mozilla.

“We rely on best-of-breed open source software, such as Berkeley DB, to reduce time-to-market and cost,” commented Mike Sudol, Motorola vice president and general manager for GSM High-Tier Product Group.

Haavard Nord, CEO of Trolltech, noted that “Trolltech's Qt/Embedded GUI toolkit, MontaVista Linux, and Sleepycat Software's Berkeley DB are all optimized for speed and low memory requirements.”


Motorola's A-768 smart phone is available now through China's leading domestic operator, China Mobile.

Motorola's older A-760 model was reviewed recently by CNet Asia.

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