The LiMo Foundation – the consortium behind the LiMo mobile Linux-based operating system (OS) – yesterday unveiled nine new handsets from NEC and Panasonic as the group aims for greater share in the OS space and takes on higher-profile rivals such as Android and Symbian. NEC has launched four new LiMo-compliant handsets, whilst Panasonic unveiled five. Both Japanese vendors will supply the new devices to local operator NTT Docomo. A total of 42 LiMo-compliant handsets are now commercially available.
Although Linux is the most popular type of free or so-called open source computer operating system available to the public to be used, revised and shared, it has had limited success with mobile phones so far. Google is also using Linux for its high-profile Android platform. Supported by the Open Handset Alliance, the Android OS is currently only available on a handful of devices from HTC and Samsung. However, analysts believe the support of Google, along with every major handset vendor other than Nokia, as well as almost every major tier one operator, could eventually see Android become the dominant mobile Linux-based OS. Certainly the LiMo Foundation appears to be lacking widespread global traction, with Docomo being the operator recipient of the vast majority of LiMo handsets to date. The Android/LiMo battle could get more interesting soon though with reports stating that Vodafone, Orange, SK Telecom, Telefonica and Verizon Wireless plan to introduce LiMo phones by the end of this year. Overall, Symbian dominates the mobile OS market, with an approximate 51 percent market share.