Verizon’s latest announcement that its joining LiMo (Linux Mobile – a consortia that seeks to put an open, hardware independent Linux based OS at the heart of mobile devices) has been perceived as a setback for Google’s Android initiative.
LiMo expounds the same principles that have been mentioned to be the reason for Google to form the Open Handset Alliance, a group of 30 companies that includes T-Mobile, NTT DoCoMo and Motorola. For Verizon, joining LiMo means that they will provide support for devices that are sold through their retail outlets alone (and those will be running on LiMo).
Though Google has made several announcements relating to the Android Programming Challenge and the massive response it got from the developer community, there is some doubt as to whether the initiative is losing its steam. The mobile space is getting cramped as many technology firms are betting high on this being the next great frontier for revenue. Infact, Motorola and DoCoMo are hedging their bets in this by backing both the LiMo Foundation and Android.
The mobile market is indeed a very lucrative one.
An excerpt from BusinessWeek:
Analysts figure the smart-phone market being targeted by the likes of Apple, Microsoft, and London-based Symbian, which is backed by Nokia (NOK), will amount to about 170 million units this year. By comparison, unit sales of feature phones of the sort that could run LiMo or Android should top 300 million. By 2012, figures New York market watcher ABI Research, some 127 million mobile gizmos will be running some form of Linux, up from 8.1 million last year.
Telecommunication companies are known to be vary of releasing control of the network and getting the recent FCC Spectrum auctions to include an open applications clause was a big win for Google. The real proof of its success would come once the Android enabled devices start rolling out. With its extensive experience in managing widely distributed and accessible applications, Google has its image established as a technological leader. But it is argued that emulating the success on PCs in the mobile devices space is much tougher. Mobile devices are resource constrained and matching the software that runs with the underlying hardware is an onerous task. Doing that on an open platform is much more so. Until the new devices come to the market, it will be hard to predict the success or failure of Android.
Also, Microsoft and Apple have made much more tangible progress in the mobile space and it can’t be ruled out that perhaps a string of acquisitions and business strategies from their side may make things more harder for Google.