According to a Computerworld Singapore report quoting newly published research, 2012 will be the year of the Linux mobile phone, with some 31 percent of all smart phones, or 331 million devices, running Linux. The prediction is based largely upon the fact that Linux has a much faster growth rate than either Symbian or Windows Mobile, some 75 percent year on year.

Symbian is probably likely to be the main casualty, as outside of the US (where it enjoys a market share of less than 10 percent) it claims in excess of 70 percent of the global smart phone business, although the majority of this is restricted to Europe. Things are already very different in Asia, where Linux has a 30 percent market share in China and Japan for example.

The main driver as far as mobile handsets are concerned would seem to be Motorola which has announced it plans to get Linux running on 60 percent of its devices within a two year time frame with the help of the newly created LiMo group.

Motorola has also just announced its Linux based RAZR2 V8 mobile phone handset which it showcased at LinuxWorld in San Francisco a few weeks ago. The Linux RAZR2 V8 has already shipped in India and Vietnam, and the US joins the list this week. It's an important push forward for the mobile Linux market, because this is no niche handset, no geek toy, but rather a mainstream multimedia phone replete with USB 2 connectivity, Windows Media Player 11 codec and an external touch screen display for text messaging. There's also the 2 MP camera with MPEG4 video, and an 8x zoom. The quad-band global support, and a decent HTML browser.

Priced at around $500, perhaps the year of the Linux mobile has actually already arrived.


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A linux phone with a wmp11 codec seems a bit off, but stranger things happen every day.

Also, I hope that predicted growth is not derived on a straight line basis. Long-term market trends have a tendency to be anything but straight-line steady.

Still, Linux powered phones are probably appealing to manufacturers; not because its Linux, and not because they could make savings and pass them off to consumers, but because they can make savings and keep them for themselves.