U.S. software and services company Red Hat and Britain’s closely held 3G Lab said on Monday they will develop a “Linux (news – web sites) for the wireless world” as they team up to write an operating system for Web phones.
The software that will create the groundwork for new applications on mobile phones will be “open source,” meaning that all the code will be published on the Internet and available to everyone.
Linux is also a free “open source” operating system (OS) that has made major inroads in the computer industry as an alternative to Microsoft’s Windows and a host of Unix (news – web sites) and mainframe operating systems.
The two companies will take on established names such as Psion-owned (PON.L) Symbian and Microsoft which have already developed their own operating systems for a new generation of smartphones and between them gained support of all of the major mobile phone manufacturers.
The first smartphones, designed to display email, run calendars and play games and video clips, will hit the market later this year.
Red Hat and 3G said their new OS will make a difference because manufacturers will be allowed to tweak the software so it can be tailored to specific cellphones, without having to consult or seek approval of the producer of the software.
“Manufacturers will have complete liberty. They will have a choice to create a mix of applications with their own look and feel and branding,” Paul Beskeen, director of engineering of embedded products at Red Hat, told Reuters in an interview.
“If mobile operators and mobile phone manufacturers are going to be able to customize these devices deeply to user needs, there needs to be much more openness, flexibility and modularity in the software platform,” 3G Lab Chief Executive Steve Ives said in a statement.