* KDDI, Immersion join wireless Linux group LiMo
* LiMo still lacks support from top telephone makers
By Tarmo Virki, European technology correspondent
HELSINKI, Aug 11 Panasonic Corp (6752.T) and
NEC Corp (6701.T) unveiled nine new cellphone models on Tuesday
that run the open-source LiMo operating system, wireless Linux
group LiMo said.
The focus of the cellphone market has been shifting to
software development since Google Inc (GOOG.O) and Apple Inc(AAPL.O) entered the mobile market in the past two years, with
phone vendors and operators increasingly looking for open
source alternatives such as LiMo to cut costs.
The market for software platforms on cellphones is led by
Nokia's NOK1V.HE Symbian operating system, but it has lost
much ground over the last year to Apple and BlackBerry maker
Research in Motion Ltd RIMM.ORIM.TO.
Computer operating system Linux has had little success with
cellphones so far, but its role is increasing with the LiMo
platform and Google is using Linux for its Android platform.
Linux is the most popular type of free or so-called open
source computer operating system available to the public to be
used, revised and shared. Linux suppliers earn money selling
improvements and technical services and Linux competes directly
with Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), which charges for its Windows
software and opposes freely sharing its code.
LiMo also said Japanese mobile carrier KDDI Corp (9433.T)
and touch screen company Immersion Corp (IMMR.O) had joined the
not-for-profit foundation. But LiMo has been missing support
from the largest cellphone vendors. So far smaller phone makers
NEC, Panasonic and Motorola Inc MOT.N have unveiled in total
42 phones using its software. At the same time, all the top
handset vendors, except Nokia, have promised to produce phone
models running Android software.
The world's second- and third-largest cellphone vendors,
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) and LG Electronics Inc(066570.KS), are members of LiMo, but have not unveiled
LiMo hopes to benefit from its focus on giving greater say
over software development to telecommunications operators. Its
key members -- Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L), France Telecom SA's
FTE.PA Orange, Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc (9437.T), South Korea's
SK Telecom Co Ltd (017670.KS), Telefonica SA (TEF.MC) and U.S.
operator Verizon Wireless, a venture between Verizon
Communications In (VZ.N) and Vodafone -- have pledged to
introduce LiMo phones in 2009.
(Reporting by Tarmo Virki; editing by Andre Grenon)