Linux will be the dominant PDA OS! Umm…what?

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By Michael Sainsbury, iTnews Wednesday, February 27, 2002 Linux is likely to emerge as the main operating system for mobile devices, according to Sybase CEO and chairman John Chen. The left of field opinion flies in the face of the current received wisdom that Microsoft s Pocket PC will battle the Nokia driven Symbian operating systems for handheld OS ascendancy with the Palm OS as a third player. Chen said that price will be the main reason that handset makers move to Linux and he expects to see the first devices hit the market by Q3 this year. Leading the way is Korean device maker Samsung, which is working with giant US telco Sprint. Samsung has already tested the market with its Yopy device, released last year. The Yopy PDA includes an MP3 player, CompactFlash slot, a 3.9 inch backlit colour LCD screen and uses an ARM processor. Small US-based vendor Agenda also has a Linux unit in the market there, and major manufacturers Sharp and Compaq have Linux based PDA s under development. Chen opined that Linux would dominate the low end of the market within two to three years. But IT industry analyst Meta Group disagree with Chen. In a recent report the company said: User organisations must understand that reducing OS license costs for PDAs has minimal impact and that Linux PDAs offer fewer applications than either Palm or Pocket PC. In comparing processor speed, memory, flash and above all screen quality, it makes little difference in overall cost whether the device is powered by Palm OS, Pocket PC or Linux. Applications are the key concern, and businesses should focus on the types of applications (managing personal information, automating a sales force, managing customer relationships and so on) they need and should select and release PDAs accordingly. Linux PDAs will find a role only in situations where companies need a highly customized or specialized system, or one in which devices will be distributed to extremely large numbers of users, such as fast-food outlets.



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