Intel buys British Linux developer Opened Hand

Intel keeps its options open

Intel has snapped up British Linux house Opened Hand in another sign of the growing interest in the use of the operating system on mobile devices.

Last month, research from ABI Research said that Linux was set to take the lion's share of the market for the so-called mobile internet devices, those bigger than a cell phone but smaller than a laptop.

Intel had already invested in this area by setting up Linux project Moblin for the development of these devices.

In a statement posted on Opened Hand's website, the company said that it was looking forward to working with the chip giant. "The OpenedHand team will join the Intel Open Source Technology Centre and will focus on the development of the Moblin Software Platform, the optimised software stack for Intel Atom processors."

Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca said that the move was a demonstration of the interest in Linux as a mobile platform. "We saw it earlier this year with Nokia buying Trolltech, it's a sign that the mobile space is not as clear cut as the something like the PC one. There you have a market dominated by PCs with Macs for some specialist users, but mobiles are not like that - there's a diverse range of products, and, if anything, it's becoming more diverse," he said.

He said that he thought that Intel's purchase was a way for the chip giant to keep its own options open. "We don't know how this market is going to shape up and it's important to have that diverse range of platforms.

OpenedHand employees will continue their existing projects. The statement said that Intel will continue supporting open source projects currently led by OpenedHand staff, such as the Clutter and Matchbox projects, and in most cases, will accelerate these projects as they become an integral part of Moblin.

Bamforth said that the problem with multiplicity of mobile devices was that it made it more awkward for IT directors looking to incorporate mobile products within a corporate comms network. "The IT manager will need to look for more powerful tools to manage these devices, otherwise it's like herding cats. The other option is outsourcing that management and I expect to see a few more companies adopt that approach."

Intel was approached for comment but had not responded by the time we'd gone to press.

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