Nokia – the world’s largest mobile phone vendor – has emphasised its support for the Linux operating system and said it expects its role within its product portfolio to increase as Internet-focused device development grows. Nokia has used Linux for years in its Internet tablets, large phone-like devices that access Internet services on-the-go but lack calling functionality. “We will expand that range, and we believe that the role of Linux will grow,” Nokia spokesman Kari Tuutti told Reuters. Meanwhile, the company’s CFO Rick Simonson told an investor conference this week, in response to a question about the role of Linux-based tablets, that “it’s going to be terribly important.” He said the company has been developing the next-generation of Linux-based products, which are starting to come to market.
Linux has to date had little relative success on mobile phones, despite being the most popular type of open-source operating system (OS) available to the public to be used, revised and shared. According to research firm Canalys, the OS market within the ‘converged device’ sector (smartphones and wireless handhelds) is dominated by Symbian (67 percent market share in 2007), followed by Microsoft (13 percent) and RIM (10 percent). “The mobile Linux opportunity remains just that, an opportunity,” wrote Rachel Lashford, manager of Canalys in APAC, in February in a company press release. “Total Linux-based phone shipments in 2007 were almost flat on 2006. There is still too much fragmentation and not enough momentum for any single open standard around which the energy of developers, manufacturers and operators can coalesce.” However, in recent months, two consortiums – Google’s Open Handset Alliance and The LiMo Foundation – have outlined plans to create mobile phone platforms based on open-source Linux.