Open source to spearhead a Three-tier mobile war

The mobile front is quickly becoming a new battleground between open source and Microsoft, mimicking what is happening on the desktop and server platforms.

As Personal Digital Assistants rapidly fade away and are replaced by communication hybrid devices - MP3 players, cum PDA, cum telephone - you can expect there to be quite a few casualties along the way.

Palm, the original mass selling PDA manufacturer, shed its operating system in September 2003 in a bid to become platform agnostic and PalmSource has now been acquired by the Japanese based company Access.

Two days ago, at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, Access announced the launch of the Access Linux Platform, which is the latest evolution of the Palm OS for Linux. Compatible with both Linux and Palm OS software, it offers a bridge not unlike that offered by Apple during the transition from OS9 to OS X.

The mobile market is set to explode in the next few years as multi function mobile devices (MFMD) acquire more power, storage capacity and communication capabilities. The stakes are higher than on the desktop with 2 billion phones set to be replaced over the next few years.

Access and PalmSource, with nearly half a million registered developers, are well placed to hit the jackpot although Microsoft and Symbian won't give up without a fight. Symbian - a collaboration between Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Lenovo, Nokia, LG, Motorola, Psion and Panasonic – is the more likely, in the long term, however, to collaborate with mobile Linux.