Using Linux to Leapfrog the Competition

jzemlin's picture

The Palm Pre, described as a phone that’s “always thinking ahead,” debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this month. The phone is running Palm’s all-new Linux-based webOS platform. The form factor is downright sexy with a 3.1″ 320 x 480 multitouch display with accelerometer-sensed widescreen browsing and a full pull-out qwerty keyboard. It includes 802.11b/g WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth and 8GB of built-in flash storage. There’s a 3MP camera with LED flash, a mass storage-friendly microUSB plug and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There is also a wireless charger.

Great specs and it demoes well.

You might have forgotten but Palm is a very big player. They haven’t been in the spotlight as much lately, though. The Palm Pre clearly changes that. So far, it has more than doubled their stock price. The story’s not over, but they are relevant again.

What’s powering their comeback? Linux.

Palm has shrewdly taken advantage of an open platform that delivers incredible immediate value. I don’t mean value is a general sense either. The Linux Foundation has issued a report on the quantifiable R&D value a company gets when they utilize Linux. Leapfrogging kernel development is worth $1.4B. Leapfrogging a full Linux distribution is worth $10.8B. Including the enthusiastic and knowledgeable developer community that can become apart of supporting the product, Palm is seriously back in the game.

The bigger question I’m asking myself is: Without Linux, could Palm have fought back? It’s a relevant question. Without Linux, would Google be Google?

It takes Linux to compete in this market. Moblin, Android, Maemo, Limo, OpenMoko, Palm, Access Linux, and more all share a common base in Linux. We are moving toward a world where Linux based devices are the norm, not the exception.