MontaVista Software will broaden its focus on the burgeoning mobile phone market, with the announcement Tuesday of a program to rally chipmakers, software providers, and wireless carriers around its embedded Linux operating system as an open, extensible software platform. Dubbed the Mobilinux Open Framework, the initiative aims to produce a plug-and-play software ecosystem consisting of prequalified third-party products, that can grab market share from Symbian and Microsoft.
MontaVista VP of Marketing Peder Ulander says Linux is ready from a technology standpoint to compete with Symbian and Microsoft, but that not enough marketing is done around the open source operating system. “The technology exists — its ready to go — but theres not enough awareness or understanding.”
“You cant build an ecosystem without a formal program,” Ulander adds.
According to Ulander, the Mobilinux Open Framework will include ports of MontaVista Linux Consumer Edition for “three to four” architectures, corresponding the programs anticipated semiconductor participants, within the next year. “TI is the significant player [in mobile phone chips], but there are four other semis that see Linux as the opportunity to knock TI down,” Ulander says.
On top of these architecture ports, MontaVista will certify software components–including JVMs (Java virtual machines), browsers, and PIMs stacks–from ISVs (independent software vendors). These components will then be combined in a mix-and-match way–“like Legos,” Ulander says — into pre-tested, pre-integrated “blueprints” that will allow Linux to compete better on time-to-market issues with pre-packaged mobile OSes from Symbian and Microsoft, while at the same time helping phone makers better differentiate their products in a market increasingly driven toward commoditization. MontaVista hopes to produce between five and a dozen such blueprints this year, Ulander says.