NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile operator, has developed a common software platform that can run on both the Linux and Symbian operating systems used in its 3G mobile phones.
Three new handsets announced on by the company are compatible with the new platform. The N901iC by NEC and the P901i by Panasonic Mobile Communications use a Linux version of the platform, while the F901iC by Fujitsu uses Symbian OS version, according to DoCoMo.
The common platform is designed to cut costs and speed development of difficult-to-make 3G phones, according to DoCoMo.
The platform consists of middleware for common services and functions, customised modules for the operating systems, sample device drivers, sample application software, handset emulator software for personal computers, and development guidelines, the company said.
From now on, DoCoMo expects that most or all of its new 3G handsets will run on either Linux or Symbian OS, spokesman Takumi Suzuki said. Suppliers will be able to decide which operating system they adopt.
The company is not pushing development of any other operating systems, he said.
"To tell you the truth, we don't like ... [and] we don't have a plan to invest in [Microsoft] Windows," he said. "Windows is not for the mobile space, the files are big."
The handsets announced this week are the end results of two joint projects to develop phones based on the common software program: one between DoCoMo, NEC and Panasonic; and one between DoCoMo and Fujitsu, according to Suzuki.
The N901iC is the first mobile phone made by NEC that uses Linux, according to spokeswoman Akiko Shikimori. The common platform will help NEC more easily add third-party application software into future 3G mobile phones.
NEC is also considering placing Linux on future 3G handsets for the international market, she said.
"We can't say that every single 3G phone from now on will have Linux, but most of them will," she said.
Panasonic's future Linux-based phones will be primarily for the Japanese market, but the company also plans to use Linux for models for international sale, said spokesman Wilson Solano.
"Linux is for phones for the domestic market first and foremost, then for phones for overseas," he said.
Paul Kallender writes for IDG News Service