ARM bets on Linux to help it to trump Nokia

ELECTRONIC chip designer ARM has teamed up with five of its major partners to boost the use of free Linux software on cellphones, challenging Nokia’s Symbian and Microsoft.

The chip companies said yesterday they have set up a joint venture, called Linaro, to cut duplicate development in using numerous Linux versions and to speed up rollout of new phones -- hoping that would boost take-up of more advanced handsets.

That would enable them to ship more advanced chipsets and increase the average sales prices of their platforms. Versions of the Linux operating system -- Google’s Android, operator-backed LiMo, MeeGo from Nokia and Intel and Palm’s webOS -- have won increased share of the mobile device market. In the first quarter Linux phones’ total market share rose to 14 per cent from 8.5 per cent a year ago, according to Gartner.

“Linux’s trajectory has been established. Its momentum is growing,” ARM’s chief executive, Warren East, said, adding he felt it was “inevitable” for Linux versions to have a very strong position in mobile phones.

The largest Linux version, Android, has beaten Microsoft to become the fourth most popular operating system on smartphones.