A specialist mobile software management company, Red Bend Software, has today announced what it claims to be the first Linux based mobile phone complete with fully over the air customizable software. The breakthrough has been made possible by partnerships with companies such as Digital Airways, Opera, Synchronica, Trolltech and Zi, and has been used to showcase the deployment and updating of applications using the Red Bend vRapid Mobile technology concept.
The handset itself is not actually available to purchase though, but remains firmly in the realms of concept fantasy. Red bend refer to it as a MAST, short for Master key, which is meant to symbolize the milestone of open access updating during the life-cycle of the device. MAST is based on the Trolltech Qtopia application platform for Linux and is implemented on Trolltech's Qtopia Greenphone. The Synchronica Device Management Server provides the device management server connection from which software is provisioned in a secure and reliable manner using the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) Device Management protocol. If you want to get hands-on with the MAST phone then you'll have to wait a couple of weeks until the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where Red Bend will be demonstrating it live between February 11 and 14.
It could be worth the wait, especially if features such as being able to update the Opera mobile web browser without needing to update the entire firmware image, and enabling network operators to customize a generic handset and promoting services via the Digital Airways' Kaleido interface when a customer inserts an existing SIM into a new phone work as well as they promise to.
"Until now, the entire mobile value chain has struggled to find a solution to enable post-sale, over-the-air customization of mobile software, especially for feature phones where core applications and services are embedded in ROM," said Yoram Salinger, CEO of Red Bend Software. "vRapid Mobile solves this need today, and we have joined efforts with major players in the industry to show how new revenue streams can be realized through mobile software management."
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Windows Mobile support typical application binaries as found on personal computers with code which executes in the native machine format of the processor (the ARM architecture is a dominant design used on many current models).