I am not happy with the current crop of handsets. They remain underpowered with awful memory storage (by default) and they suffer from lack of “intuitiveness”.
Linux is being modified for use in Mobile handsets by major players like Motorola However, these initiatives are not yet happening on a mass scale elsewhere. I would never endorse a Motorola solely based on it’s “linux heart”; I believe that they really need to open up the software so that anyone can modify for his/her own personal use.
Imagine a day when the chips become powerful enough and less battery intensive to be able to support the next generation of applications. The telecom companies are building up ecosystems (or famed walled gardens) of their content and hope to charge a premium. However, as I have been arguing in these forums, such tiny mobile screens would not be able to excite an average Joe to part with his money. This is indeed true as the operators struggle to monetise their 3G services roll out.
Linux based handsets would perhaps change that. I believe that ability to interact with the vitals of your cell phone would enhance user interaction with the device. Imagine being able to download and install via Synaptic. Or being able to run applications on the fly.
Further, Linux is resilient to mobile viruses something that has been the bane of other operating systems like Symbian They need an “extra dosage” of scanners et al to make the phones relevant and “fit for use”. Linux currently suffers no such thing. And I am not happy with proprietary systems. This also means that the cost of the development and licensing also get factored in while purchasing a handset.
Its development was prompted by the growth of power hungry portable devices that place new demands on software.
“It is clear that new types of device – small, handheld, graphical tablets which are Internet-enabled – are going to change the way we communicate and collaborate,” said Ubuntu CTO Matt Zimmerman.
(You can track the news here) It’s partnership with Intel would ensure the continuity of the programme; specially when Intel is very keen on dominating the mobile handset market.
What are the practical implications for India? I believe that it should reduce the costs of the high end phones running Linux. With energy savings (in form of longer battery life) and less power hungry mobile applications, it would drive up your interaction with the phone in a more fruitful manner. This would open up the market for interactive services and encourage people to try out new applications.
Open Source stands vindicated. It would affect the bottom line of the companies too (if they really want to do it) and offer much better choice of products running both Ubuntu Linux and/or any other operating system. There is no final word on it as yet; but clearly the rules of the game have been re-written by entry of Ubuntu Linux (or more specifically Linux on mobile phones) and being marketed by the likes of Intel.
P.S. This is no way endorsement of Intel in any manner whatsoever. I use AMD and have been on it for the past 5 years.