Qualcomm Inc. has today announced that it is to support the Linux operating system on its Mobile Station Modem MSM6550 chipsets. This should enable handset makers to have additional possibilities in design and development efficiencies for 3G smartphones and other similar devices. This move will eliminate the need for a separate co-processor, and will permit lower design costs and complexity.

"By introducing Linux on the MSM, QUALCOMM supports manufacturer partners who wish to leverage existing Linux applications, third-party developers and application catalogs to reduce their software development costs and improve time-to-market," said Dr. Sanjay K. Jha, president of QUALCOMM CDMA Technologies. "We are expanding the software development environment of our chipsets to address the growing market interests for Linux as well as other third-party operating systems."

Linux will be implemented as a virtual platform on the Mobile Station Modem, and will be the first third-party OS to be supported by Qualcomm. The move is characteristic of an increasing industry interest in Linux as a platform for mobile phones, one that has been growing for some time.

Interest in Linux by cell phone manufacturers started in January 2003, when handset maker Nokia released software to let Linux programmers develop Java software for its cell phones. In February of that year, Motorola outlined ambitious plans to make most of its phones run on Linux. Motorola introduced its first Linux phone, the A760, in August 2004.