Intel, Samsung get behind new Linux phone software

Two Linux software groups have joined forces to develop a new operating system for cellphones and other devices in collaboration with Intel and Samsung Electronics.

However, analysts said the new Tizen platform is likely to struggle to attract wider developer and manufacturer support to compete with the dozen or so other mobile operating systems in a market dominated by Apple and Google's Linux-based Android.

Even industry majors Nokia and Hewlett-Packard have ditched their mobile platforms this year.

"The best hope for them is that big operators get worried by Android's increasing smartphone dominance and decide to consciously switch their allegiances to rival platforms to restrict Google's huge influence over the mobile market," said analyst Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics.

LiMo Foundation and the Linux Foundation said the new Tizen platform is an open-source, standards-based software platform that supports multiple devices including smartphones, Tablets, smart TVs, netbooks and in-vehicle 'infotainment' systems.

The initial release is planned for the first quarter of 2012, enabling the first devices using Tizen to come to market in mid-2012, the two groups said.

The world's largest semiconductor firm Intel, which also has its own MeeGo Linux system, and Samsung Electronics, the second biggest maker of cellphones and one of the key contributors to LiMo, will head the technical steering committee developing Tizen.

"Tizen aims to unify a number of marginalised Linux based platforms," said Geoff Blaber, an analyst at London-based telecoms industry consultancy CCS Insight.

"There is a willingness to create an independent alternative to Android but history tells us that willingness doesn't necessarily equate to success," he added.

Samsung is the leading user of the Android platform, but some other makers of Android-operated phones have begun to look at alternatives since Google agreed to buy Motorola Mobility last month for US$12.5bil.

"Samsung might be further tempted to try a new system as Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility raised uncertainty over the future of Android," said Song Jongho, an analyst at Daewoo Securities.

A spokesman for Samsung said: "We've been a core Linux partner and this is in line with our strategy of supporting many platforms."

Earlier this month Intel and Google launched a development partnership to adapt Android for Intel's Atom processor chips, with a view to having the first Anroid phones featuring Intel chips in the first half of next year.

Linux is the most popular type of free, or open-source, computer operating system which allows the public to use, revise and share. Linux suppliers earn money selling improvements and technical services.
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