February 4, 2008 3:40 PM PST
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The foundation also announced the immediate availability of the application programming interface (API) set for the platform. Prior to the announcements, ZDNet UK spoke with LiMo's executive director, Morgan Gillis, to discuss the platform, LiMo's rivals, and Nokia's entry into the organization.
Q: Could you go into further detail on Monday's announcements?
Gillis: We're announcing that the first release of the platform will be available in March. We are also announcing that the APIs will be available immediately on the public Web site. What we're doing in this phase is to push the platform out to the whole industry in order to provide, particularly (to) developers, an opportunity to look inside the platform and formulate their own plans to target the LiMo platform as a channel to market.
All LiMo members can implement the platform in their phones and, obviously, we have a good number of handset makers inside LiMo. The first release of the platform is made up of technologies that were created by the six LiMo founder members (Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic, Samsung, and Vodafone). So the technology within the first release has already been deployed in handsets--it started going into handsets from about three years ago.
What LiMo is doing with Release 1 is to reintegrate that technology to form the LiMo platform. In all of the major areas of the platform, this is technology which has been extensively market-proven.
Could you expand on the API set announcement you have made?
Gillis: We're doing something quite radical--we're offering the API specifications out to the general public from Monday. This will enable anybody, in any corner of the industry, from large companies that are not inside (LiMo) yet to small developers, to look inside the LiMo platform and begin preparing.
If you want to implement the LiMo platform, do you need to be a member of the organization?
Gillis: Yes, from the (manufacturer) side. In order to ship the LiMo platform onto another customer you need to be a member; to develop for it, you don't.
One member of the LiMo Foundation, who asked to remain nameless, has referred to the LiMo's program as "one of certification." This company claims that its contributions to the platform have not yet been approved. Does this ring true with you?
Gillis: That is not a comment that makes a great deal of sense to me. The handset companies that are inside LiMo are each developing handsets using the LiMo platform, and there is a LiMo approval program for handsets which implement the platform. That program is running very smoothly--I don't think anyone is waiting for certification.
Analysts have noted that Nokia, by buying the LiMo member Trolltech, has entered the consortium "through the back door." Do you view that acquisition in this way?
Gillis: There are further stages to go before anyone could really say that with certainty; the acquisition of Trolltech needs to be (approved by regulatory authorities). Then, potentially, Nokia would be the owner of a member of LiMo--that would be the situation.
Do you think the Trolltech acquisition would lessen Nokia's reliance on Symbian?
Gillis: I would tend to look at it with a slightly broader, more strategic view. We can all see that Nokia has, for the past two to three years, been concentrating its focus and investments and acquisitions on the user-experience layer--both the user interface and, through (Nokia's Internet services platform) Ovi, the content as well. As a strategy, that complements what we're doing at LiMo quite perfectly.
What LiMo does is to focus exclusively on middleware and to create the middleware platform within an open and transparent governance model that is comfortable for the whole industry. I think Nokia's strategy is clear, their focus is clear, and they have said themselves they are moving into a cross-platform mode, which at least implies less dependence on any one underlying platform.
Are you happy with Nokia's method of entry into LiMo?
Gillis: LiMo's role is unification of mobile Linux, and we mean unification in the true sense, so we really do welcome and accommodate all parts of the industry. We began with four large handset companies and two very large operators just one year ago. At the time, some people said you can't get big industry leaders to work together in a productive way. Through the announcements we're making, we're proving that the LiMo model does work. It allows major industry forces to collaborate productively while also leaving them free to compete very fully in other areas of technology--the areas which sit above the value line.