A la Mobile Linux platform supports dual-mode phones

A la Mobile introduced a mobile phone software stack designed for converged Wi-Fi and GSM phones

A la Mobile Inc. is hoping to help fuel the supply of converged Wi-Fi and GSM (Global System for Mobile) phones with a new version of its Linux-based mobile phone software package.

A la Mobile designed the new Linux system stack to make it easier for handset makers to quickly build and deliver converged phones that can support VOIP (voice over IP) services over Wi-Fi as well as GSM voice. The software stack includes a standard SIP (Session Initiations Protocol)-based VOIP client as well as the other applications included in A la Mobile's initial offering such as Java, Adobe Flash, a browser and e-mail.

"It's pre-integrated and pre-tested so any hardware vendor can take this ready to go and very quickly go to market," said Pauline Lo Alker, president and chief executive of A la Mobile.

A la Mobile first introduced its Linux-based mobile phone software package in September. The product uses the Linux kernel and includes what is essentially a BIOS for phones that A la Mobile developed, she said. In addition, A la Mobile has chosen what it believes are best-in-class applications for e-mail, messaging and other services that handset makers might also like to offer and packaged those into the platform.

Handset makers are looking for such a single system because it helps them deliver their products quickly, she said. Without such an offering, a handset maker must investigate the different available offerings, license them and then integrate the various components -- a timely and often costly process, she said.

So far, Gupp Technologies, a Malaysian phone maker, is the only manufacturer to license A la Mobile's platform. The handset maker plans to begin selling the phone some time during the second quarter this year.

A la Mobile's offering designed for converged phones, introduced on Wednesday, is the first in a series of products from the company that will be designed to meet specific needs of handset makers. Alker would not reveal what types of other functions future versions might offer.

Linux is gaining traction as an operating system for mobile phones and several consortiums have been formed recently to help develop the market. Despite interest in Linux, the mobile Linux environment is currently hampered by a lack of unity and by many proprietary products. Companies like A la Mobile hope to address the fragmented state of the market by unifying components into a single offering, making it easier for manufacturers to build Linux-based phones, Alker said.

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