Raising the bar a notch or two higher in its rivalry with Android and the Open Handset Alliance, a newly enlarged LiMo Foundation on Monday rolled out the first LiMo-compatible handsets and announced its software development kit (SDK) strategy.
Orange and Access are among nine new members that have just recently joined the LiMo Foundation, which unveiled 18 LiMo handsets from seven different vendors at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The group’s SDK strategy, meanwhile, will encompass Native, Java and Webkit SDKs.
“With the lineup of prestigious mobile industry leaders and innovators that now stands behind the platform, LiMo is positioned at the heart of an open mobile ecosystem that will connect developers with mobile consumers across all markets,” said Morgan Gillis, executive director of the LiMo Foundation. “LiMo’s open approach and broad SDK strategy recognize the diverse strengths and talents of existing open developer communities — empowering a diverse set of developers to innovate successfully within the mobile communications marketplace.”
Though the LiMo Foundation started off with just six founding members when it was launched in January of last year, the new additions to its membership have swelled its ranks to 32. Included in this newest wave are AMD, FueTrek, Open-Plug, Renesas Technology, Samsung SDS, SoftBank and STMicroelectronics, as well as Access and Orange.
Included among the 18 commercial LiMo handsets announced were the Moto U9, Moto Z6w, Rokr Z6, Razr2 V8, Razr2 V8 Luxury Edition and Rokr E8 from Motorola; the NTT DoCoMo FOMA N905i, FOMA N905iμ, FOMA N705i and FOMA N705iμ from NEC; the NTT DoCoMo FOMA P905i, FOMA P905iTV, FOMA P705i and FOMA P705iμ from Panasonic Mobile Communications; and the SGH-i800 from Samsung.
Prototype and reference handsets announced include the LG LiMo Phone from LG Electronics, the OPAL(m) from Aplix and the Purple Magic from Purple Labs.
The LiMo Platform is a modular, plug-in-based, hardware-independent architecture built around an open operating system, with a secure run-time environment for support of downloaded applications. The first release of the LiMo Platform will be available in March, the group announced last week, while the application programming interfaces (APIs) are already available.
LiMo’s SDK suite, which will roll out beginning in the second half of this year, will provide common, Eclipse-based tooling environments to support the development of software for LiMo handsets coming to market starting in the fourth quarter of this year, the foundation announced.
The suite will enable mobile software suppliers to concentrate on developing their own value-added technologies while allowing developers to work with advanced programming models within an open-source environment.
The SDK suite is being readied by LiMo board members including Access, Aplix, Azingo, Motorola and Wind River, and other SDK partners will be announced in the near future, the group said.
The Google Aura
Even as LiMo touted its new wares, of course, other handset makers at the Mobile World Congress were showing prototype mobile phones running Android, the competing open mobile platform from Google and the Open Handset Alliance (OHA).
Several companies are members of both the LiMo Foundation and the OHA, and how the competition between these two platforms will play out is still far from certain.
“What Android and the OHA have behind them is the Google phone aura,” Chris Hazelton, senior analyst for mobile device technology and trends with IDC Research, told LinuxInsider. “Despite the fact that there are no Google phones yet, it’s being built up to be a strong competitor to Apple’s iPhone.”
With LiMo, on the other hand, “whereas the phones we’re seeing from them are good, they’re not seen as iPhone competitors,” Hazelton added. “Because of that and because of Android’s potential, the players that are currently in both LiMo and OHA may move more of their efforts to OHA as the developer community starts to solidify — especially with the Google SDK contest coming in April,” he said.
Indeed, the LiMo announcements are “a nice step for the foundation, which hasn’t had a whole lot to crow about until now,” Neil Strother, an analyst for mobile marketing and media with JupiterResearch, told LinuxInsider.
Even so, however, “I wouldn’t get too excited because the winds blow fast and furious and are not always predictable in the mobile operating system space,” Strother said. “This doesn’t mean they’re going to own the world. They’re ahead of Android, but then again, they’re not Google.”