"There are very few details about Motorola's plans for the A760," said Rachel Lashford, an analyst at research company Canalys.com Ltd. in Reading, England. "I can understand what Motorola is trying to do by launching the phone in China as it's a huge market and the company is trying to roll back some of the worldwide market share it's lost elsewhere."
The move is also positive for Intel as it will get its processors into a market that is expected to see widespread growth in mobile phone use, Lashford said.
"Linux has been gaining ground in China and perhaps Motorola is trying to launch a platform that offers an open and flexible environment where developers can create compelling applications for the handset, which is the key for any real success," she said.
Motorola may be taking a wait and see approach to the A760, first gauging the phone popularity in China before moving it to other markets, Lashford said. "It looks like in Europe and the U.S., Motorola has decided to concentrate on it smart phone using the Windows OS," she said.
Motorola has already begun selling its MPx200 in the U.S. and Europe, a clam-shell format cell phone based on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile 2002 Smartphone software.
The MPx200 is the first Microsoft-based phone to be offered by a major handset maker, and is seen by analysts as an important move for helping Microsoft establish its credibility in a mobile phone market dominated by Nokia Corp. and smart phone OS developer Symbian Ltd. (Nokia currently owns a 32.2 percent share of Symbian, having bought a large portion of the 19 percent stake in the company Motorola sold last August.)
"Phone vendors want to go with these common look and feel phones that consumers feel comfortable with and that is what the Nokia and Microsoft phones offer (U.S. and European consumers)," Lashford said. "Linux is seen by the vendors as being for a select group at the moment."
Trolltech's Chambe-Eng said his company is shifting its focus to the smartphone market which he believes is full of opportunity. "All the players out there right now are working on different solutions in parallel which is a sign that the market is wide open. My guess is that in the next year, Linux models of smart phones will be launched in the U.S. and Europe depending on the success in China," he said.
Chambe-Eng stressed that the Linux wireless OS must be touted by a high profile handset manufacture before consumers become comfortable enough to accept the technology. "The biggest challenge has been that no major player has made the jump to Linux and created a visible alterative," Chambe-Eng said. The A760 could be that jump, he added.
(Tom Krazit in Boston contributed to this report.)