General Dynamics Broadband Blog

June 03, 2010

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Mass market smartphones

The gap between so called feature phones and smart phones continues shrink. Features phones with their, typically, closed and proprietary operating systems have generally had an edge in terms of price by requiring fewer hardware resources and forgoing a strong separation between the baseband processing software and the primary user-interface software. However, with recent software innovations there is no reason you can’t effectively run an open smartphone OS such as Android on the hardware that is typically used in feature phones today. In the near future rather than having feature phone and smart phones we will have mass-market smartphones and high-end smartphones all running open operating systems such as Symbian S3 and Android.

The first enabler is fast-context switching approach which allows better performance of operating systems that use protected processes, such as Symbian and Android, on ARM9 based CPUs (which are commonly used in feature phones).

Secondly, continual improvement in smart-phone OS performance enables those OSes to run on lower-end hardware. An example of this is the recently announced Dalvik JIT in the latest Froyo release of Android.

Finally, mobile virtualization provides the separation guarantees required to allow a baseband stack, and an open OS to run on the same piece of hardware.

As much as I love getting and playing with fancy new hardware, I’m looking forward to seeing a wider adoption of open OSes like Android across a wider range of the mobile phone market.

Posted by Benno Leslie on June 03 at 07:59 AM

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About Benno Leslie:

Benno Leslie, Vice President of Engineering at OK Labs holds a dual degree in Computer Engineering (with first-class honors) and Arts from UNSW. While at work, Benno does his best to avoid the marketing department, while he oversees a team of lead engineers and the customer support organization. When summer hits, the rugby field comes calling and Benno is either tackling others, out cycling, or letting loose at concerts.

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