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MontaVista Linux Out With Smartphone OS

MontaVista Software unleashed a new embedded operating system designed to make smartphone players like Microsoft and Symbian sit up and take note.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Linux vendor, known for its embedded Linux offerings, announced its Mobilinux 4.0 product designed for the $300 and $600 mobile and wireless device market. The operating system is scheduled to ship in the second quarter of 2005 and immediately benefit MontaVista's partners such as Openwave as well as Motorola, NEC and Panasonic.

The announcement also dovetails with MontaVista's Mobilinux Open Framework program, which it released in February 2005.

The platform is based on the Linux 2.6 kernel, and updated with Eclipse 3.0.1 and CDT 2.1 technology as well as open KDrive (aka TinyX) and GTK technologies.

Mobilinux carries a version 4.0 moniker to differentiate it from MontaVista's three other products: Consumer Electronics Edition, Professional Edition, and Carrier-Grade Edition. The new operating system features a fast start-up (less than 1 second), a small footprint, and better performance while extending battery life. The operating system also features support for RFID, Bluetooth, and SAMBA .

Peder Ulander, MontaVista vice president of marketing, said the company is also working with handset manufacturers and mobile operators on making sure their specifications are met through open and industry standard technologies.

"Where we are sitting is in an opportunity where Linux can scale while Microsoft and Symbian are rigid and closed opportunities," Ulander told internetnews.com. "Our greatest competitor is still Roll-Your-Own but those platforms have inconsistent drive patches and upgrades especially for the larger customers. We are also seeing really high growth opportunities for Mobilinux as this push towards 3G increases and the volumes reflect it."

Overall trends in the mobile and wireless space are favorable for smartphones, according to Ulander. MontaVista's stats suggest that in the 2007 - 2008 period more than a billion intelligent smartphones will have shipped.

MontaVista's other advantage over Microsoft and Symbian is that smartphones by nature are expensive because they have two operating systems and two chips.

"A feature phone that has one operating system and one chip will make is more affordable," Ulander said.

A Symbian smartphone is really complex, Ulander said, because of all of these filters, not to mention it is 50 percent owned by Nokia, which could alarm some people looking for an open system. The other concern by handset makers, Ulander said, is that they saw what Microsoft did on the PC and they do not want to recreate that on the smartphone.

Avoiding the pitfalls of its competitors, MontaVista has also added support for a cross-platform DPM Library, an event broker to help define, publish and subscribe to content, and advanced real-time support.

Mobilinux will also have various power performance enhancements, ARM Embedded Application Binary support for compatibility with standard third-party tools, compiler support for thumb mode, and an integrated graphical layer for user interfaces.

Another strong play of MontaVista, Ulander said is in the company's contract work within the network infrastructure. Currently MontaVista has 11 different phone designs and 2.5 million handsets in the world.