New companies join Linux phone group

Several companies including Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) and ZTE Corp. have joined the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum, the group announced on Monday.

Other new members include antivirus software developer McAfee Inc. and Spreadtrum Communications Inc., a semiconductor company. Purple Labs and Longcheer Holdings Ltd., both mobile handset designers, also joined. Telecom Italia SpA was named as a new member; its mobile arm, TIM Italia SpA, was one of the early members of the forum.

The LiPS Forum is one of several mobile Linux groups launched over the past year. The forum aims to standardize Linux services and application programming interfaces (APIs) to help spur the growth of Linux on mobile phones.

TI has been attending LiPS Forum meetings as an observer since the group's launch last year, said Loic Hamon, director of strategic marketing for TI's wireless business unit. The company became involved, he said, in part due to its close relationship with France Telecom SA, one of the founders of the forum and an active participant in the emerging mobile Linux industry.

Operators and phone makers have increasingly been working to push smart phones into the mass market and supporters say that Linux can help them do that. TI last year began selling a new chipset platform aimed at enabling operating systems such as Symbian, Microsoft and Linux to run on low cost, mass market phones, Hamon said.

TI is interested in other mobile Linux groups as well but hasn't publicly made announcements about joining them, he said.

Late last year, the Open Source Development Labs started the Mobile Linux Initiative to work on optimizing the Linux operating system for handheld devices. In June, a group of companies including Motorola Inc., Vodafone Group PLC, NTT DoCoMo Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., NEC Corp. and Panasonic Mobile Communications formed a consortium focused on the development and marketing of an API, specification, architecture and source reference for Linux phones.

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