Yesterday, Xandros announced that it was partnering with Viyya Technologies to market MID devices. What’s interesting is that Ubuntu will also be featured on MID devices, manufactured by Nokia. So, is there a new mobile OS war in the near future?
It reminds me of the old Palm OS versus Windows Mobile wars back several years ago. For a little bit of a history lesson, Palm OS 5, at it’s peak in 2003, was indeed better, or at least in my opinion, than Windows Mobile 2003. After 2004, Palm Inc. split into two companies, Palm and PalmSource. Palm was the hardware end of the business, and PalmSource was the software business. About a year later, things began to start falling apart. Palm OS 5 was beginning to show signs of aging against Windows Mobile. Windows Mobile 5 had been released, and it was a major improvement over 2003, and Palm had not had a new system or device in a while. Palm went in a different direction and began offering Windows Mobile on some of it’s devices, and Palm moved to a more smartphone-based company. PalmSource, after failing to release Palm OS 6 Cobalt which included various enhancements such as multitasking, was bought by an Asian company called Access. Access eventually started a new operating system based on Linux, and has been developing it ever since. Actually, I am not even sure if the Access Linux Platform (ALP) has been placed on any devices as of now. Palm was at the top, but eventually fell (as most recently seen with the Palm Foleo), but at least they are doing rather well with treo line of products.
Anyways, the Palm OS vs WM wars were very interesting to watch, and any kind of mobile OS competition always catches my attention and sparks my imagination. Ubuntu Mobile will be on the Nokia devices, and Xandros will be on some other as-of-yet unnamed device. Xandros will be hoping that their success with the Asus Eee PC will transfer to their MID devices. Ubuntu (and Canonical) will be hoping Ubuntu’s popularity on the desktop will transfer to sales of their MID devices. My bet is on Ubuntu. Note that Xandros partnered with Microsoft in a patent-protection deal, and are going to include some Microsoft tools in their devices, which will most likely turn some people away. Also, MID’s are no Eee PC. They are different devices, and thankfully most are pocket-sized. The Nokia device is already popular, and when coupled with Ubuntu might just be the magic combination. With the right kind of marketing and in-store availability, Ubuntu Mobile Nokia devices could do extremely well.
Either way, it will be fun to watch the fireworks as more Linux devices make their way to the marketplace. Just the fact that the two competitors are Linux is good, as it will only lead to more Linux adoption on mobile devices in the future.