An intermediary between a smartphone and a laptopMozilla Corp., Arm Ltd, MontaVista Software Inc. and four other companies are trying to extend the market for a new category of devices, a combination between a smartphone and a laptop.
The seven companies are collaborating on an open-source Linux based platform that includes chip design, operating system and several applications. They hope this platform will make the work of hardware developers much easier, when building devices resembling Nokia's N800 web tablet. The device on which the companies are working is smaller than a laptop but bigger than a smartphone, an intermediary between the two. It will not include cellular capabilities, but WiFi.
The group of companies wants to finish the platform's development in the first part of the next year and will be available on the market from the beginning of 2009. The new category of devices is similar to the ultramobile PC, but uses Linux, not Windows based applications.
The devices which will use this platform will be lighter than a laptop, as in weight but also as number of applications. Jim Ready, CTO and founder of MontaVista said: "You can attach to the Web and do e-mail and browsing without all the baggage of a PC and Windows and Office. There are Web-based alternatives to all that." A good example for what he said could be Google Docs, an online solution for creating documents.
The platform might be similar to the one used by Nokia in the N800 web tablet, but will be different from a very important point of view: Arm Inc. is creating a completely open platform that will be shared with the open-source community as Kerry McGuire, director of strategic alliances in Arm's mobile computing group, said. She wants to see 90 million of these devices on the market until 2010.
Arm's Debian-based Linux distribution, MontaVista's operating system, a desktop and application environment from Gnome Mobile, a web browser from Mozilla, a multimedia player and other components like integrated hardware management for battery and power savings will be included in the platform. Some other features such as a customizable user interface and various options for wireless connectivity will be available.