Purple Labs has joined the LiMo Foundation. Unless you're really in the know, you'll probably look at this announcement the same way I did. I said, “Who is Purple Labs, and what is the LiMo Foundation?” But more importantly, “Why is this important to me?”
Let me first start with who the LiMo Foundation (www.limofoundation.org) is. Founded by Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Orange, Samsung Electronics, and Vodafone, the group claims to be an independent, not-for-profit entity that strives to increase the adoption of Linux within the mobile industry, particularly for mobile handsets. The LiMo Foundation aims to leverage the mobile Linux platform (hence the name, LiMo) to create an open, transparent, scalable ecosystem spanning application and middleware developer communities and to encourage the creation of compelling, differentiated, and enhanced consumer experiences.
Not too long ago, the LiMo member list grew with the addition of Aplix, Celunite, LG Electronics, McAfee, and Wind River as Core members. Additional Associate members include ARM, Broadcom, Ericsson, Innopath, KTF, MontaVista Software, and NXP. The Foundation, which is open to device manufacturers, operators, chip-set makers, independent software vendors, integrators, and third-party developers, expects to see the first handsets supporting the LiMo platform reach the market in the first half of 2008.
It probably won't come as much of a surprise to learn that Purple Labs (www.purplelabs.com) is a supplier of embedded Linux solutions for mobile phones. In addition to joining the LiMo Foundation as an Associate member, it will support the organization's mission to develop a world-class Linux-based software platform for mobile devices. The company claims to be the first commercial Linux platform for feature phones in the consortium. This extends the LiMo initiative to mass-market mobile handsets.
While I thought that Linux already had a place in this market, a flavor of the operating system is now endorsed by an industry consortium, assuming that was even necessary. I'd probably argue to the contrary. Having to go through yet another governing body, albeit a light-handed governing body, still presents a roadblock to mass adoption.
Good technologies tend to eventually find their way into mainstream devices, regardless of whether they're adopted by an industry group. I suspect the same will be true for Linux, if it's not already true.
Richard Nass is editor in chief of Embedded Systems Design magazine. He can be reached at .