Linux-enabled smartphones, led by the success of Google's Android, will comprise 33 percent of the worldwide smartphone market by 2015. With more than 60,000 smartphones shipping per day, Android has catapulted ahead of other Linux mobile platforms.
"Due to its low cost and ability to be easily modified, Linux in the mobile market today is nearly as disruptive as Linux was in server markets a decade ago," says senior analyst ABI Research Victoria Fodale.
Much of the interest that handset OEMs and mobile operators have in Android can be traced to its flexibility.
"The Android platform can be modified so that OEMs can differentiate their products," says Fodale, "and the licensing terms allow OEMs to innovate while still protecting proprietary work."
But although Google has built early momentum, Android is not without competition.
Industry heavyweights Intel, Nokia, and Samsung recently announced two other new Linux-based operating systems, bada and MeeGo.
The bada platform is also kernel-configurable so that it can run either on the Linux kernel or a real-time operating system (RTOS) kernel - which makes bada applicable to a wider range of devices than just smartphones.