Meta predicts that within five years Linux will capture between 20% and 25% of the global mobile OS market from a virtual standing start, and that manufacturers including Motorola, Siemens and Samsung will drive that growth.
The market is currently dominated by the Symbian operating system, followed by Palm and minor player Windows Mobile.
Meta said it expected to see a significant number of new mobile phones with embedded Linux operating systems coming on to the market in the next two to three years, joining the existing MontaVista system.
This will initially happen at the lower end of the phone market in emerging countries such as China and India, partly as a result of "greenfield" OEMs entering the market with no previous history of using established operating systems and taking advantage of patent-free solutions.
During this time, said Meta, a number of higher-end smartphones for business users would also be equipped with Linux.
Meta also sees fundamental design changes in many devices that will separate the underlying OS from the user interface.
Meta cites PalmSource's announcement that it will essentially exit the embedded OS market for phones and instead build the Palm environment on top of a Linux platform - expertise it recently acquired through its purchase of China Mobile Systems.
If Meta’s predictions turn out to be correct, enterprises currently struggling to integrate their largely Windows-based corporate networks with mobile networks and devices may have to take account of another mobile operating system in the field.
This was first published in March 2005