LiMo Foundation gets ready for next-generation platform

The next version of Linux-based mobile platform LiMo is getting closer to launch.

The next version of the Linux-based mobile platform LiMo is getting closer to launch and a number of operators are promising handsets during 2009, the LiMo Foundation announced Monday.

All the components that make up Release 2 have been delivered on time by the contributing members, according to the foundation. The new version will provide better multimedia support, location-based services, device management and enhanced security.

But making life easier for developers is the most important difference, according to Geoff Blaber, an analyst at CCS Insight.

"With Release 2 there is a far greater level of consistency, which makes it far easier to develop applications and move them from device to device," he said.

But commercial phones won't be ready until the end of the year at the earliest. LiMo is expected to show reference designs that conform to Release 2 at the Mobile World Congress, according to Blaber. The conference opens Feb. 16 in Barcelona.

There will be demonstrations of mobile Web applications and widgets, touch-based user interfaces, mobile TV and high-resolution cameras at the show, according to the LiMo site, which doesn't provide any more details. Members will also be showcasing toolkits for developers, who want to create applications for LiMo handsets, it said.

But the LiMo Foundation isn't just making headway on the platform side. NTT DoCoMo, Orange, SK Telecom, Telefónica, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone will all launch devices during 2009, according to the foundation.

"It's positive news for the LiMo Foundation, and what it does is underline the fact that although operators are looking at other platforms in the near term LiMo is still part of operator's plans," said Blaber.

The fact that LiMo isn't dominated by one vendor and has an underlying service strategy of its own, which in some cases can compete with operator interests, makes it an attractive alternative to Google's Android, Nokia's Symbian and Microsoft's Windows Mobile, according to Blaber.

LiMo has become a tool that operators can use to try to keep those vendors in check, according to Malik Saadi, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media. The operators are sending the message that LiMo gives them an alternative to other platforms, he said.

The increased competition will be good for users, resulting in cheaper phones and more and better services to choose between, according to Saadi.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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