March of the penguin

Linux needs a sugar daddy. So says HTC CEO Peter Chou, who argues that despite the recent growth of Linux-based handsets, the OS needs a long-term cooperation partner--someone exactly like HTC patron Microsoft, to be specific--to galvanize commercial production. At a ceremony celebrating HTC's 10-year anniversary, Chou told DigiTimes that the smartphone manufacturer's decade-long relationship with Microsoft produces "good chemistry results," and Microsoft senior VP Pieter Knook couldn't resist the opportunity to sing his company's praises either, proclaiming their collaboration central to HTC's emergence across the international market. One imagines the exchange was followed by much back-slapping and champagne toasts, culminating in the lighting of cigars with burning $100 bills.

But hold on--a recent forecast issued by research firm ABI Research anticipates that by 2012, Linux will be running on nearly 31 percent of all smart devices, with a growth rate faster than Windows Mobile or even Symbian. According to ABI, Linux smartphones will grow at more than 75 percent per year, and will be up and running on 331 million devices in five years. With Motorola committing to install Linux on 60 percent of its handsets over the next two years and major pushes by Intel and Access already underway, ABI's numbers do seem possible, if a bit too optimistic. The research firm admits that the vertical and horizontal fragmentation plaguing the device market remains a concern, and Microsoft's recent patent infringement claims against Linux can't be discounted, either. No matter what, Linux is doing just fine making its own way in the world--and staying sugar-free. -Jason