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Symbian faces emerging Linux competition

Linux will soon present a serious challenge to incumbent smartphone OS software vendors, research suggests.

The market for smartphone operating system (OS) software has said the market is set to hot up, as Linux-based vendors begin to challenge incumbent market leaders, according to new research.

The Smartphone and OS Markets report published by analyst ABI Research predicts that Linux flavoured OS will claim a 23 percent share of the smartphone market, pushing the Symbian OS into second place.

It said the emergence of two technically competent and coalesced Linux consortia, the LiMo Foundation and the Open Handset Alliance, will strengthen the Linux challenge.

The recent LiMo foundation announcement that another major carrier in the form of Verizon had joined its ranks, as well as the growing support for Google's Android mobile platform in the form of numerous global application developers coding innovative applications for the platform, proves mobile Linux OS development is not fad as many incumbents have claimed, said the report.

ABI Research vice president and research director Stuart Carlaw added: "Although LiMo and Android will take the lion's share of the market for Linux solutions, there will be opportunities for solutions such as Maemo [the Linux mapping application], facilitated by the encroachment of the MID [Mobile Internet Device] form factor into the mobile devices landscape."

The analyst pointed to its recent research, which found that Nokia had a poor position in the Americas, resulting in a 2007 share of only four per cent for Symbian in the North American smartphone market. As a result, ABI said it was imperative that Symbian looks to grow its share of this market by gaining more traction from other handset vendors that are performing well there.

"Otherwise, the company could face a situation whereby its leadership in the European markets is challenged by a combination of a resurgent Windows and emerging Linux, while simultaneously being locked out of the North American market," it warned.

Only last month, Nokia said it recognised that Linux would have to play a greater role in its portfolio, as the MID market evolves.

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