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Monday, 04 August 2008 11:59

LiMo gather new allies for looming handset battle

The battle between multivendor handset platforms is heating up: the LiMo Foundation has announced new members and new handsets, and Qualcomm has been hinting at  iPhone beating Android based products, as well a singing the praises of its upcoming Snapdragon chipset.

The LiMo Foundation announced the commercial launch of seven new handsets from Motorola, NEC and Panasonic, based on its Linux based open source handset platform. It says this takes the total to 21. All seven new models are designed for use on NTT DoCoMo's Japanese FOMA 3G network.

Motorola has launched the ZN5; NEC the Foma N906i, Foma N906iμ, Foma N906iL and Foma N706i and Panasonic the Foma P906i and Foma P706iμ. According to the LiMo Foundation "Several of the latest LiMo handsets include advanced enabling features that herald the forthcoming Mobile 2.0 experience for global consumers. These include international 3G/HSDPA roaming capabilities, GPS, mobile TV and advanced video streaming, secure payment and advanced mail functionalities - all presented through higher-resolution displays and intuitive user interfaces."

The 11 new LiMo members are Cellon, Esmertec, Freescale Semiconductor, Longcheer Holdings, MIZI Research, Movial Corporation, PacketVideo Corporation, SK Innoace, Telecom Italia, VirtualLogix and ZTE and take LiMo's total membership to more than 50. LiMo claims that the new members "further extend LiMo’s reach in multiple dimensions: regionally, technologically and within the industry value system." Some them were previously members of another body promoting a Linux based handset platform, the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum, which announced in June 2008 that it would fold its activities into LiMo.

Qualcomm's COO, Sanjay Jha addressed Qualcomm's industry analyst briefing in San Diego last week and, according to a local press report praised the iPhone but said: "There are opportunities to do some things better." The reported added: "Jha mentioned the iPhone several times during his talk about the company's powerful new Snapdragon line of voice and data chips , which feature a 1GHz processor and the ability to run an 8 megapixel camera and a high-definition video camera. The first Snapdragon chip will produce high-definition video at a resolution of 720 lines progressively scanned. All of those features would be upgrades over the iPhone's hardware."

Qualcomm, however has no plans to support Android on Snapdragon but expects a large number of Android handsets to run on its chipsets. Jha was reported telling analysts that he has seen the latest version of Android and "It is meaningfully better than the previous version." Qualcomm is a member of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), which is promoting the Android platform.

HTC is expected to be the first handset maker with an Android product, later this year. There have been reports that Android is facing significant delays. However, according to Cellular News, Google is expected to make an announcement regarding the Android platform within a few weeks, including new members of the OHA and an updated version of the developer software kit.

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