LiMo kills Linux smartphone

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If you were anxiously awaiting "The World's first smartphone based on Access Linux Platform (ALP)" then wait no more, and the Samsung i800 has gone the way of the dodo.

Access systems announced the Samsung i800 smartphone back in February, which, according to the firm, was going to be introduced by Orange in the second half of this year: "Orange is expected to introduce Samsung SGH-i800 with ALP in 2H of 2008" said the FY2008 Business Plan.

So earlier this month, the Palm OS / Garnet OS advocates started asking some questions: "It was reported with so much fanfare in Feb this year that finally, the first ALP phone is going to be launcheded by Orange and Samsung this June.

Now it is already July, and Samsung just released its i900 (Omnia), where is the i800 ?".

Other sites even wrote articles in anticipation of this phone, like "how to develop applications for the Samsung i800", highlighting the ALP's three-way compatibility in the form of a Garnet OS virtual machine, its built-in Java VM, and of course, the ability to run native Linux/GTK ALP applications.

So we asked both Orange and Access about the fate of the Samsung i800. The first company didn't answer, but Orange did, through its PR firm, confirming there will be no i800 ALP-powered smartphone from this carrier, although they will embrace LiMo.

In case you are left wondering what killed the first ALP smartphone, all clues point towards LiMo, the Linux Mobile Foundation and its pet project.

The reply came from Edelman, Orange's PR firm, which also told us to contact Samsung and Access directly, but stated: "just so you know the Samsung i800 has been withdrawn. Since the original project was defined back in February there have been a number of advances in mobile technology."

The Edelman spokesperson continued saying that "As a consequence the Samsung i800 has been withdrawn in order to take advantage of these to prepare a more competitive Linux mobile. Orange is still committed to mobilising Linux technology and supporting the LiMo Platform as a uniform, open source-based software platform."

Access joined the LiMo foundation as a core member back in February, so at least there is hope that some or all of ALP might turn up in a LiMo release. It is not clear if that will include the Garnet OS virtual machine allowing LiMo to run the thousands of very good Palm OS/Garnet OS applications available on the market.

According to the LiMo FAQ, it would be possible for Access to contribute the Garnet OS VM to LiMo under a proprietary licence: "Members may also submit software under the Foundation Public License (FPL) or submit certain software under a proprietary license (Annexes B and C to the IPR Policy)."

But one has to wonder if at this point it wouldn't be in Access' best interest to have the Garnet OS VM released as open source.

After all, they could continue to make money by offering technical support, fixes, and custom development to the carriers and hardware vendors shipping the technology, in other words, copying the "Red Hat model". (c) 2010 Incisive Media

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