Besides sponsoring Linux creator Linus Torvalds and other key kernel developers, the foundation is known in the mobile industry as the host to MeeGo, the open-source operating system project, jointly developed by Nokia and Intel.
China's Interest in Linux
China Mobile's decision to join the Linux Foundation shows its increasing commitment to the open source platform. In recent months, the telecom has invested in its own OPhone mobile operating system, a system based on Google's Android mobile OS and it operates its own successful mobile application marketplace, similar to iTunes or the Android Market.
To give you an idea of its app store numbers, China Mobile's Market has over 50,000 registered developers, 20,000 applications available and over 25 million downloads as of June 2010. The telecom also recently teamed up with Nokia to promote a "one-stop service for developers," a combined offering called the Mobile Market-Ovi Development Partner Program.
Linux a Choice for 560 Million More Users
China Mobile's joining The Linux Foundation is significant not only because it means China Mobile will be contributing to Linux on a more global scale than it was before, but because of what this means for the Linux movement itself. As Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation explains, "the opportunity to present Linux as a choice to 560 million users is a power-packed proposition."
China has been increasingly involved in Linux kernel development and utilization. A recent study from Springboard Research and Spiceworks found that the utilization rate of Linux in small and medium-sized businesses in the Asia Pacific region is now over 25%, higher than the world average. Many of China's largest Internet companies - Sina, Shanda, Baidu, Taobao, Netease and others - have chosen Linux.
Cliff Miller, director of the Linux Foundation's China operations, told the WSJ in an interview that the organization will now be able to draw on the company's "vast experience and know-how in the mobile space," and will provide insight into what sort of features are most attractive to end users. That knowledge of user behavior can then be rolled into Linux specifications.
Put simply, it give the MeeGo project a huge boost. MeeGo developers will be able to draw upon this vast resource of data when designing the new OS - data that speaks to how people use their mobile phones...date on how a lot of people use their phones. Over half a billion people, in fact.
More importantly, it means Linux and its variations , including MeeGo, now have a strong backing. Miller said that China has the potential to "foster a Linux ecosystem - of software developers, hardware manufacturers, Internet stores - unlike any other in the world."