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Linux adds boost to Motorola phones

Motorola (http://www.motorola.com) used last week's CTIA Wireless Conference in New Orleans to show off its new Linux-powered smart phone, the A760, which utilizes MontaVista Linux as its embedded operating system. Motorola has said that it plans to use the open-source OS in most of its phones, which will also be able to run programs written in Java.

"This handset is special because it features one of the most open and flexible software platforms," said Motorola marketing manager Terence Lam. "By supporting the open-source Linux OS along with Java technology, Motorola is providing the most creative and fertile environment possible to set the stage for a 'best experiences win' environment."

Motorola unveiled the phone in February at the 3GSM Congress. Shipment is scheduled to begin by year's end. The high-end device plays MP3 audio, takes digital photos and is Bluetooth wireless-enabled. "The A760 is Motorola's first handset demonstrating the company's commitment to making the Linux operating system a key pillar of its handset software strategy," the two companies said in a joint statement.

MontaVista Linux supports a range of enhanced interactive features in consumer electronics products like the Motorola A760. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Linux distributor's Consumer Electronics Edition (CEE) operating system and cross-development environment was designed specifically for consumer electronics applications in mobile phone, set-top boxes, HDTV sets and automotive telematics.

According to the company, the CEE platform enhances Linux by adding dynamic power management, as well as support for XIP (eXecute In Place) and optimization for streaming media applications.

The company was recently cited by industry research firm IDC as one of the fastest growing vendors in this area of the embedded systems market.

"As mobile phones rapidly evolve, the supporting software needs to be more robust to support their rich functionality and networking capabilities. MontaVista Linux provides a powerful systems software platform that can help to quickly bring these advanced products to market," said MontaVista CEO Jim Ready. "By standardizing on Linux for its handset software strategy, Motorola is blazing a trail into this new world of advanced consumer electronics, and we are proud to support this trend."

Both Sony and NEC recently released their own consumer product offerings based on MontaVista Linux, and the company reports that other cell-phone makers are currently building next-generation devices based on its Linux OS distro.

In a recent report from IDC (http://www.idc.com), industry researchers predicted that the embedded OS market would reach $1.4 billion by 2006. That number represents a combined annual growth rate of 18.6%.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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