Seven Companies Decide Open Source Is the Future of Cellphone Technology

CellphoneARM is a British company best known for designing chips for cellphones and licensing them to semiconductor companies. The company’s technology is the most widely used in cellphones, though any company implementing the technology modifies it however it deems best. But now a new effort is under way to exploit this chip technology by creating a standard layer of software.

The collaboration was announced at the fourth annual ARM Developers’ Conference being held this week in Santa Clara, California. The idea is to address the rise in consumer demand for Internet access and advanced applications on cellphones. The seven companies are ARM, Samsung, Texas Instruments, Mozilla, Marvell, MontaVista, and Movial. The new standard chosen: a Linux-based open source platform to be designed for next-generation mobile applications.

By releasing the new platform into the open source community, the hope is that the collaboration will allow for a faster release of products and technologies with enhanced capabilities for video, graphics, and Internet. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) picked up the story and explained that the plans “…will make it easier to develop cellphones and other mobile devices with iPhone-like sophistication.”

Unfortunately, such a comparison doesn’t do any favors for this otherwise new technology. ARM and its partners plan to release the full platform in early 2008 and bring devices to the market in early 2009 while the iPhone? It’s already here, no need to wait two years. But open source has a way of making waves even if often late to the party (think: browsers, email, operating systems, etc.).

Here’s what Mike Inglis, an executive VP at ARM has to say about the collaboration:

“Today’s consumers are very knowledgeable about technology, want to be connected to the Internet and access multimedia content and applications anywhere, at anytime, yet they do not want to be restricted by short battery life and inadequate features that will limit their experiences… By stepping up the collaboration among key stakeholders in the mobile market, we will be able to jointly deliver the devices and applications with the cutting-edge innovation consumers have come to expect.”

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