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Go LiMo: Open-Source Mobile Foundation Lands New Partners, Devices

The LiMo Foundation on Monday cranked the open-source handset competition up a notch with the addition of 11 partners and a host of new devices to rival Google Andoird and the Symbian Foundation.

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The open-source mobile consortium, which launched in January 2007, on Monday increased its ranks to more than 50 partner companies in its drive to deliver an open handset platform for the entire mobile industry. The 11 new members include Cellon, Esmertec, Freescale Semiconductor, Longcheer Holdings, MIZI Research, Movial, PacketVideo, SK Innoace, Telecom Italia, VirtualLogix and ZTE.

According to the LiMo Foundation, the latest round of partners are evidence that its contributor-led governance model can uniquely rationalize the increasing complexity and sophistication of the mobile ecosystem.

LiMo's model and collaborative development methodology set it apart from other platform initiatives, said LiMo Foundation Executive Director Morgan Gillis in a statement.The 11 new members will help extend LiMo's reach, adding companies that have previously participated in the Linux Phone Standards Forum, which said in June 2008 that it would fold activities into LiMo. They join the ranks of other mobility and technology heavyweights like Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic, Samsung, Vodafone, Orange, McAfee, SK Telecom, Texas Instruments and Verizon Wireless.

Along with adding new members to its roster, the LiMo Foundation on Monday bulked up its offerings to 21 with the addition of new devices from Motorola, NEC and Panasonic Mobile Communications. This next wave of LiMo handsets points to the innovation that will flow as the industry coalesces on the LiMo platform, Gillis said in the statement.

The Motozine ZN5, Motorola's seventh LiMo handset, pairs the device maker with Kodak for a high-quality phone and camera. The NEC and Panasonic handsets, their eighth and sixth LiMo handsets, respectively, are available in Japan.

Many of the latest LiMo devices include Mobile 2.0 for 3G/HSDPA roaming capabilities, GPS, mobile TV and advanced video streaming. They also feature secure payment and advanced mail functionalities, presented through high-resolution displays and intuitive user interfaces.

LiMo was founded on the notion that fragmentation of the mobile industry among dozens of proprietary, closed operating systems was inhibiting innovation, Kiyohito Nagata of NTT DoCoMo, chairperson of the LiMo Foundation, said in a statement. With such a variety of industry players cost-effectively adopting the LiMo platform for non-differentiating handset middleware, more development resources are being devoted to enhancing the consumer experience.

LiMo s success come as rumors swirl that Google Android and its Open Handset Alliance have hit snags in getting devices to market. Google, however, maintains that Android plans remain on track.

Google Android's 30-plus member Open Handset Alliance brings together mobility and wireless heavyweights including China Mobile, NTT DoCoMo, Sprint Nextel, Motorola, Samsung, T-Mobile, LG Electronics and HTC.

In addition, LiMo must now compete with the recently launched Symbian Foundation, Nokia's open handset alliance. Industry experts have said the Symbian Foundation will give Google Android a run for its money, possibly resulting in a Symbian and Android partnership.

The Symbian Foundation comprises Sony Ericsson, Motorola and NTT DoCoMo to unite the Symbian operating system, the S60 platform, the UIQ software platform and the MOAP application platform to create the single open-source platform. ATandT, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone have also joined the nonprofit Symbian Foundation to extend the appeal of the unified software platform. Open to all organizations, the Symbian Foundation will enable Nokia to contribute its Symbian and S60 software, while Sony Ericsson and Motorola will contribute technology from UIQ. NTT DoCoMo has also indicated that it will contribute its MOAP assets.

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