While Linux fans are always keeping a beady eye on the take up of their favourite open-source operating system on the desktop – a market that is dominated by closed-source commercial systems – it seems that a very important sector is seeing something of an assault from the penguin-powered packages: phones.
The desktop Linux fight has been going on for some time and while user-friendly distributions like Ubuntu
alongside 'stealth' carriers like the Linux-based ultra-low-cost laptops
are certainly helping convert thousands to the penguin side of computing, conservative estimates still put Linux-based computing at around two percent of the home-user market. A market that may have escaped the notice of the commercial giants, however, is seeing a massive uptake in Linux usage according to figures from ABI Research quoted by Ars Technica
The research firm estimates that around 23 percent of the smartphone market will be running some form of Linux – a massive chunk of a well-established sector. ABI Research's vice president Stuart Carlaw reckons that Linux will be “the second most prevalent solution behind Symbian,
” and that the bulk of that market will be thanks to the “LiMo [Foundation] and [Google's] Android,
” with “opportunities for solutions such as Maemo [as used in the Nokia Internet Tablets] which will be facilitated by the encroachment of the Mobile Internet Device form factor into the mobile devices landscape
Whether the predicted heavy usage of Linux on smartphone platforms will lead to a similar takeup on the desktop remains to be seen, but it's certainly an encouraging sign for the little-OS-that-could – and a worrying call to arms for the closed-source world.
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