By: Eric Brown
Linux will be the top-selling operating system in the mobile Internet device market, outselling Microsoft Windows Mobile and other rivals by 2013, said ABI Research.
The MID market is relatively small now-only 305,000 MID units are expected to be shipped in 2008-but it is expected to grow to 39.6 million units in 2012.
Linux will dominate that growth, said Stuart Carlaw, Allied Business Intelligence's research director.
The MID market presents a rare green field for Linux, said the report from ABI, "Bringing License-Free Operating Systems to Smartphones and Middle-Tier Devices." In MIDs, all mobile OSes are starting out about equal, "without the baggage of previous histories such as existed in the smart-phone market." Linux will lead the pack, said the research group, due in large part to "its ability to provide a converged platform that can span multiple device segments."
"The flexibility, customization and very positive cost comparison to Windows Mobile look set to ensure that Linux takes the leading role in this market," Carlaw said.
Mobile Linux providers LiMo, Maemo and Moblin are laying the groundwork now to lead the pack when the market gets going, ABI said.
LiMo's main focus is on phones, and the group announced seven new LiMo-compliant handsets Aug. 4. But supporting MIDs means LiMo greatly increases the target hardware options available to software developers targeting LiMo mobile phones.
Maemo and Moblin are sponsored by Nokia and Intel, respectively. Both platforms are currently aimed closely at their target markets: Nokia Internet Tablets for Maemo, and Intel Atom-based MIDs for Moblin. Intel and Moblin are expected to ship Moblin 2.0 in August.