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More Mobile Phones to Speak Linux-Java

Two software vendors announced a new partnership that pairs an embedded Linux distribution with a Java solution for next-generation mobile phones.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based MontaVista Software said it will use Esmertec's Jbed Advanced multitasking J2ME-platform atop its MontaVista Linux Consumer Electronics Edition (CEE). The two companies plan on marketing the combination to mobile handset and wireless semiconductor vendors like Motorola , Panasonic and NEC .

The timing may be right for a new range of Linux-Java enhanced handsets. Sales of mobile telephones grew sharply in the fourth quarter of 2004 to 200 million units, according to research group Strategy Analytics. The report also forecast sales of 735 million units in 2005 fueled by replacement in developed markets and strong net subscriber growth in developing regions.

While phones that use both Java and Linux are nothing new, MontaVista said Switzerland-based Esmertec makes a good partner because it supplies a wireless Java (J2ME) product and object-oriented software platform (OSVM).

The combination, according to Peder Ulander, vice president of marketing at MontaVista, helps device manufacturers, operators and application providers to, "further accelerate market growth for consumer multimedia services."

"We are excited that Esmertec has selected MontaVista's Linux as a reference operating system for Jbed Advanced. Together, we will provide a fully open, standards-based mobile software platform for the wireless industry," Ulander said in a statement.

MontaVista has bundled its Linux distribution with a Java mobile environment before, most notably with Motorola, whose strategy is to combine the operating system and the run-time environment, as in its A760, A768, A780 and E680 handsets.

Esmertec said MontaVista's CEE is a good fit for consumer electronics devices, including mobile phones, because it includes power management and networking support, while supporting XIP (eXecute In Place) of the kernel and applications, as well as streaming media optimizations.

"The integration of MontaVista's premier embedded Linux operating system and Esmertec's high-performance Java platforms provides a scalable solution, that delivers highly customizable features and rich user experiences," said Christophe Francois, senior vice president of strategic marketing for Esmertec.

Esmertec has had its own successes with its Java products. The company inked a deal with semiconductor design house Arm in November 2004 to optimize Java application performance in wireless and embedded devices.

That deal put Esmertec's Jbed CLDC MIDP2.0 solution on Sendo phones, including its M570 clamshell design.