ABI Research forecasts that by 2012, more than 127 million mobile phones will be enabled with a commercial Linux OS, up from 8.1 million in 2007. In addition, device shipments that incorporate Linux as an RTOS replacement are set to grow to more than 76 million units in 2012, up from nearly zero in 2007.
ABI Research’s report, “Mobile Linux: Bringing License-Free Operating Systems to Smartphones and Mid-Tier Devices,” found that the most fundamental issue that has plagued the growth of commercial Linux in this space — vertical and horizontal market fragmentation — has shown signs of being alleviated, both by growing collaboration between industry initiatives, and by the introduction of complete solutions such as the Trolltech-led GreenSuite, and ALP from ACCESS.
On the other hand, issues with latency have prevented Linux being considered as a viable RTOS replacement in single-processor devices. But innovative solutions such as PREEMPT_RT, the VirtualLogix virtual operating environment, and the use of RTOS executives over Linux kernels, look set to address these latency issues. However, the industry still needs to understand the total cost of ownership for Linux solutions, and it must create a common set of APIs to enable economies of scale for third-party developers.
The Mobile Linux report shows that the industry as a whole is rallying behind the Linux offering, but indicates that significant barriers still exist and must be addressed before Linux emerges as a true market power. This study explores these barriers, gives a frank SWOT analysis of the mobile Linux offering, and provides forecasts for Linux uptake in mobile devices for commercial OS implementations and RTOS replacement.