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Orange backs Linux on the mobile

French mobile operator Orange said Monday it has approved the Access Linux Platform (ALP) for use on its network.

The operator will utilise the Linux offering, developed by Japanese firm Access, in conjunction with its own Orange Application Package to equip device manufactures with a turnkey mobile Linux platform.

Orange anticipates the Linux platform can then be used to easily and quickly develop new additions to its range of Orange Signature Devices.

Yves Maitre, vice president of devices at Orange said: “This is part of our wider Signature strategy, which delivers a consistent customer experience across a variety of devices and applications and.will enable us to foster the growth of the mobile Linux market.”

Indeed, the announcement may be the first mainstream implementation of Linux by a major operator, as well as good news for Access.

Michael Carroll, of Informa Telcoms & Media’s Mobile Handset Analyst said, “It’s probably the first widespread deployment of the new platform, so it will prove an interesting test bed for the popularity of the OS among users, not just software developers.

“Orange was one of the first carriers to adopt Microsoft’s Windows Mobile software, which helped the software giant achieve a degree of credibility in the mobile market that is now paying off in terms of increased deployments. Access will surely be hoping for the same.”

Linux has been gaining some traction in the market recently. In June, a consortium comprising Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Samsung Electronics and the Vodafone Group established a global open Linux-based handset software platform focused on lower development costs, increased flexibility and a “richer mobile ecosystem”.

Meanwhile, Access and its wholly owned subsidiary, PalmSource, also launched the Access Developer Network Monday, an online resource designed to accelerate the creation, distribution and usage of mobile Linux applications as well as to extend the existing PalmSource developer community.

PalmSource has intended for some time to replace the proprietary kernel in its Cobalt 6.1 handset operating system with Linux. The company believes that with mobile operators demanding more opportunities to customise handsets, the move to Linux is not only speeding up the time to market of Palm devices but also appeasing customers by offering a standards-based open source platform.

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