Why major mobile handset makers are riding with LiMo

The executive director of the LiMo Foundation discusses his group's efforts to create and establish an open handset platform built on Linux

The LiMo Foundation was formed on January 2007 as a consortium of mobile industry companies joining together to create for handsets an open and standardized software platform based on Linux. Their goal is to deliver an open handset format that will become more widely accepted and used over closed, proprietary platforms. The foundation's major founders include Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Samsung Electronics and Vodafone. These companies and other members share leadership and decision making.

LiMo made news in early February 2008 when a number of handset manufacturers jumped from the LiPS Forum to LiMo. Notable companies that committed to LiMo included AMD, Softbank and Orange. Unlike LiPS, LiMo goes beyond creating APIs or establishing user interface standards for mobile versions of Linux. LiMo members' primary efforts go into jointly developing actual software that both hardware and application developers can utilize.

The LiMo Platform will encompass Native, Java and Webkit SDKs, and is set for release sometime during the later half of 2008. This suite of SDKs will provide common Eclipse-based tools to support software development for LiMo-based handsets (which are planned to be available for consumers to buy toward the end of 2008).

We spoke with Morgan Gillis, executive director of the LiMo Foundation, to elaborate on LiMo's role in developing the emerging open handset market.

Would it be correct to say that LiMo is more beneficial to handset makers than it is to software developers?

No. While the LiMo platform does provide unique benefits to handset manufacturers in terms of cost and their ability to participate directly in the realization of the platform, LiMo's role is also to mobilize and empower development talent on a broad scale.

How can software developers benefit and profit from the LiMo ecosystem?

The LiMo Platform is providing developers with a much broader and more direct route to their customers. By having a common set of APIs for a platform that is backed by industry leaders and adopted by the whole industry, third-party developers will have a larger and more stable base upon which to build and develop new revenue streams from applications and services.

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Howard Wen

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