In essence, LiPS wants to push toward the creation of a standard low-level phone platform which allows vendors to focus their efforts on the higher-level features which set their offerings apart. The appeal of this idea is not that hard to understand. As an operating system for telephones, Linux is hard to beat: it can be customized to taste, it is efficient, and it lacks per-unit royalty costs. In addition, mobile platforms have become powerful enough to run Linux, and many mobile applications are sufficiently demanding to require a complete operating system like Linux. On the other hand, Linux lacks the features specific to telephony which can be found in a proprietary platform like Symbian. By filling in that layer of telephony-specific features, LiPS hopes to create a competitive platform for future products.
LiPS will probably be successful in scheduling meetings, generating white papers, and cranking out press releases. But if LiPS truly wants to turn Linux into a platform it can rely upon in the future, its management may want to consider engaging openly with the development community; "cooperating with OSDL" is not sufficient in this regard. If LiPS sees itself as another proprietary, members-only consortium, it will cut itself off from much that the community can provide.
A good start would be to admit some community projects to the group. For example, since they claim to be trying to build platforms for telephony in general - not limited to mobile devices - the LiPS member companies might well benefit from having somebody from the Asterisk and Bayonne projects at the table.
Even better would be to work with the community directly. A look at the list of companies which have joined LiPS (ARM, Cellon, Esmertec, France Telecom/Orange, FSM Labs, Huawei, Jaluna, MIZI Research, MontaVista Software, Open-Plug and PalmSource) and the other companies which have been active in Linux-based telephones (Motorola, Haier, Nokia, NEC, Panasonic, Samsung, ...) has few intersections with the list of companies participating in Linux kernel development. If the LiPS members truly want to get the most out of Linux, they will be better off working with the development community and contributing back their improvements. The recent announcement by the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum that it had hired a Linux kernel developer is a step in the right direction, but it is only a beginning.
Finally, if LiPS truly wants to achieve world domination with Linux-based phones, it should give some thought to the creation of a user-hackable platform. A phone which can be extended to perform functions never envisioned by its creators will be a far more valuable device, and it should find a wider market. Unfortunately, the mobile phone market tends to be dominated by companies which behave like, well, telephone companies, with the result that even routine features (such as Bluetooth) can be locked down, and user-hackable devices are a rarity. When a device is fully locked down, it matters little to the user whether it is running Linux or something else altogether. If LiPS were sufficiently enlightened that it could go against the closed nature of the industry and specify the creation of Linux-based phones which have not had the natural freedom of Linux stripped out of them, it could be the start of something truly interesting.
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