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Nokia: Linux role growing, not yet mainstream

The Nokia Research and Development Centre is seen in Helsinki April 11, 2008. The world's largest cellphone maker Nokia said it expected the role of Linux operating software in mobile handsets would grow, but it would take some time to become mainstream. REUTERS/Bob Strong/Files

HELSINKI (Reuters) - The world’s largest cellphone maker Nokia said it expected the role of Linux operating software in mobile handsets would grow, but it would take some time to become mainstream.

Linux has so far had little success on cellphones, but its role is increasing as more new Linux-based models reach the market, while Google Inc gave it a vote of confidence by using it to build its Android mobile platform on.

“The Linux system, from any vendor, is not quite yet fully mature for the mainstream,” Nokia Executive Vice President Anssi Vanjoki told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

The market for software platforms on cellphones is led by Nokia’s S60, built on the Symbian operating system, well ahead of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile. But Nokia has used Linux in its Internet tablets, which are phone-like devices used to access the Internet on the go, but which lack calling functionality.

“Taking the Symbian 60 forward is for the next two to three years clearly the way to bring smart devices to the large masses,” Vanjoki said.

Linux is the most popular type of open-source operating system -- which is available to the public to be used, revised and shared -- meaning it has a large developer community that could result in more attractive programmes and lower costs for companies like Nokia.

Nokia’s Chief Financial Officer Rick Simonson last month called Linux’s role “terribly important” at an investor conference, saying Nokia had been developing the next generation of Linux-based products, which are starting to come to the market.

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