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Three More Linux mobile Phones Coming in Japan

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the they-always-get-the-cool-stuff-first dept.

Communications 53

An anonymous reader writes "NEC and Panasonic have developed three Linux-powered 3G mobile phones to be introduced in Japan in the coming months -- NEC's N900iL, NEC's N901iC, and Panasonic's P901i. Of the three, only NEC's N900iL is currently shipping. The N900iL is a dual-network 3G/VoIP handset that works as a 3G mobile phone (using DoCoMo's W-CDMA/FOMA technologies), VoIP terminal, or both simultaneously. All three phones are based on the Linux 3G mobile phone software platform announced by NEC and Panasonic earlier this week."

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But do they run Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10881105)

I mean, the geek in me wants to know.

Re:But do they run Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10881211)


Re:But do they run Windows? (1)

ESqVIP (782999) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881487)

"-- Ok, but does it run Linux?
-- Yes... in Japan!"

This is an article where two legendary memes meet! What a nice achievement.

Re:But do they run Windows? (1)

kokoko1 (833247) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881632)

hmm first linux makes it to super computers now mobiles great. Linus will be definitly deleited with this.

Re:But do they run Windows? (2, Funny)

Trejkaz (615352) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883139)

I suppose it could run BSD... if BSD weren't dead! There you go, I fused another one into the mix.

Unfortunately (1, Informative)

elid (672471) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881107) be introduced in Japan...

Unfortunately, it takes a long time for devices like these to make it to the US, if they make it at all.

Re:Unfortunately (3, Informative)

SimonShine (795915) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881166)

Here in Denmark, the only 3G phones for sale, by the only 3G network in Denmark, are NEC ones. It may have taken a while for the technology to get here, but if there is any delay in these new Linux mobiles from NEC, it would be because we've had a really bad experience with the last series due to software bugs. The company in Denmark has a campaign offering a free operating system upgrade until December 1st.

Re:Unfortunately (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881281)

It takes long for everything in the US. I also wonder why. But after lining there for a while, I can think of one reason: MONEY and Corporate or call it special interests. If there is any interest by any of these groups in anything, development always gets affected. That is why countries of the world are embracing Linux but the US lags behind. Western Europe is very advanced in the cell phone industry because Europeans seem to see things differently. They are more socialist than Americans.

That is why for example, Korea and Japan have been able to beat the US in internet penetration although I understand the Internet was invented in the US.

That is why the US still uses the inch and foot while the rest of the world went metric years ago!

That is why the US is still a major polluter while the rest of the world has invested in more efficient production processes.

I was shocked when I saw so many old 70's cars on American roads yet more efficient cars are being manufactured by GM and its competitors in the US.

Sadly, Americans believe that theirs is the best country to live in. I hope some can visit countries like Denmark and Sweden where I found a society so efficient that much of what Americans have to painly pay for is free in these countries.


Re:Unfortunately (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881480)

Um, please get off your soapbox. Guess what, my bet is that these systems will not be available in Canada for a while either. Why? Because the US and Canada are just too big to rationalize the investment in cellular technologies. Have you ever been to Korea or Japan? Do you know how many people there are in a very small area? Do you realize that the major investments in internet and cellular techonologies are the fixed costs, and the reason they are so profitable in these places is because with the same fixed costs, you can serve a lot more people and thus make a lot more money in Seoul than you can in Topeka.
Of course not, you just wanted to take an excuse to get on your little soap box. You came to America knowing what you wanted to see before you ever stepped foot off the plane, and of course you saw it. I know my country isn't perfect, and I don't like the way it's going, but you sir are just a pompous ass. Guess what, in Canada they have free health care, but you will also see a lot of cars from the 70s, and no 3G phones. What is your point? Is Canada on your hate list as well?

Re:Unfortunately (1)

Torulf (214883) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881555)

Well, other points aside, your argument that cellphones are lagging in the US because of its size, is bordering on the ridiculous. The EU is as large as the US, yet the mobile phone penetration has been far higher ever since the mid 90's. Up here in Finland, there is only a population of 17 inhabitants per square kilometer [] . In the US the same figure is a little over 30 [] (use google to convert to metric). So, you seriously need to rethink your argument about why the US is lagging in mobile technology.

Re:Unfortunately (1)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882704)

I am unsure whether you are comparing the United States to the European Union, or the United States to Finland. You don't delineate very well which one you are talking about.

I'll take the US vs Finland though, just to make it fair. ;-)

From your link:

Finland has a population of 5.2 Million people, 67% of which live in _towns_.

That means you have (5.2M x .67) = 3.48 Million people living in an area of roughly (330,000 sq km x .67) 221,100 sq km!

Please take your 3G phone out to the 33% of your country NOT included as "urban" and check it's available features.

There is also the matter of your peasly 300,000 square kilometers.

The United States covers 9,631,418 square kilometers! _Everything_ works in a small network, scale that up by a factor of 30 or so and it's not quite so easy to accomplish.

I'd also like to point out that using the "average" population density as the yardstick is foolish.

In places where the United States reaches its "average" of 30 people per SQ KM cellular penetration is nigh on the "world average".

In places where the pop density is much lower it doesn't.

As an example, I live in the state of Wyoming. Wyoming has a landmass of 253,596 square
kilometers and only 500,000 people in it! In other words, we are 75% of your size, with 10% of your population!

Now to discuss the EU vs. the United States, which is actually NOT fair! :-D

As near as I can tell the European Union has a total landmass among its member countries of 3,929,000. It also has a total population of 456,791,700. All numbers are post 5th stage enlargement.

The United States has a total landmass of 9,631,418 square kilometers with a total population of 293,027,571.

Now you may have been CLOSE in an arguement with Finland VS. United States but now that you can see the numbers it is CLEAR that you didn't do the research on the United States VS. European Union.

The EU has 1/3 our landmass and not quite 50% more people!

American Pop Density = 30.4
EU Pop Density = 116.2

Say goodbye to your arguement, and hello the parent posters arguement. You, are wrong.

It is not personal to you, I promise. I just like using numbers to prove I'm right. :-)

Finland numbers were taken from your link.
US Numbers were taken from
EU numbers were taken from tm

Re:Unfortunately (1)

Frantactical Fruke (226841) | more than 9 years ago | (#10886275)

One niggle: In Finland, a town or city is an administrative term that collects a population spread out over massive distances. A typical countryside town here has a dozen houses and a church in the center and hundreds of houses that can be dozens of kilometers away.

Add to that our obsession with summer cottages in remote regions that *must* be served, so that our yuppies and Nokia executives can stay in touch with the office during vacations, and you will find that 90% coverage is required from a competitive cell phone service provider. We've had big cities only providers, but they were unsuccessful.

Re:Unfortunately (2, Interesting)

kryonD (163018) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881639)

"Do you realize that the major investments in internet and cellular techonologies are the fixed costs, and the reason they are so profitable in these places is because with the same fixed costs, you can serve a lot more people and thus make a lot more money in Seoul than you can in Topeka."

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong and Wrong.

Why don't you actually learn something about the technology and market penetration in those countries before YOU get on a soapbox. The reason why DoCoMo has 40M subscribers isn't because there are 23M people squished into Tokyo, it's because they have a business model that doesn't involve screwing the average user. Remember what we used to buy cell phones for...emrgency use only, because they were too expensive to talk on. Well, DoCoMo and the other JP carriers tried a different approach, no charge on incoming calls. Imagine that, a cell phone as a tool where people can get in touch with you without you having to be tied to your land line. Then with i-Mode, DoCoMo attacked the younger crowd with full blown email and real web based services. Do you know you can buy a plane ticket from you phone while you're on the Train to get there?

The US and Canada suffer from the same problem. The major carriers here are constantly lobbying the gov't to bar foreign competitoin from entering the market so they can continue to sell 2nd gen worthless crap to the masses for hundreds of dollars. And some of them even have the nerve to say that their phone is the "1st to have" feature A that was already available in JP and EU two years ago.

Fortunately Vodaphone is starting to penetrate the US market which will alow it to impose a Japanese style of technology control that the US doesn't have. i.e., instead of AT&T's market being directly affected by features the handset makers offer in the handsets, the handset makers markets are directly impacted by their ability to manufacture devices that meet the carrier's standard. Hop on over to and look at the specs on their will notice that they all not only look a lot alike, but they all meet a baseline of standards. You won't find any black and white displays there. Plus the phones usually run you less than $50 for new service and are often as low as 1 yen (basically $0.01)

I agree (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882014)

Yes, how can one be charged for recieving a call? That is ludicrous. One week, I got swamped by spam. Messages just appeared on my phone. For each, I was being charged 10 Canadian cents. I dumped my phone company because they would not budge. Though politicians in the west talk of the free/open market, here in Canada, one cannot start another cell phone company. We cannot even watch foreign TV stations, save for American channels. This is because there is some agreement with cable companies all, money is at play. Yet on the other hand, we claim to have one of the most free markets in the world. What a world!


Re:Unfortunately (1)

Erwos (553607) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882064)

Nice theory regarding the cell phones. Your giant corporate conspiracy theory is much more plausible than different cultural tastes.

Well, OK, it's not. The fact is, Europeans and Asians are apparently willing to spend more, on average, for cell phones than Americans. If cell phones ever become more important to the American consumer (or, rather, the additional features of these super-cell-phones do), Americans will be willing to pay more - and they will be released there.

In addition, the costs of cell phone service are different in the US, Europe, and Asia. If you have to pay per kilobyte of data, all these fancy features jack up the real cost of the phone even further. When American consumers wise up and start demanding more for their dollar (and it's happened, just slowly), I would expect those fancy phones to get popular in the US.


i hate niggers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10881114)

fucken niggers in tha NBA
assaulting white ticket holders who pay their salery

fucken black animails

Seamless switching? (4, Interesting)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881116)

Are there any service providers currently offering the ability to seamlessly switch from cell towers to VoIP where your current call will move uninterrupted? And if so, what do they charge for VoIP minutes (if anything) over the basic cellular plan?

Re:Seamless switching? (2, Informative)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881194)

Nope! Not in Canada for sure.

Re:Seamless switching? (1)

unclejessie77 (517415) | more than 9 years ago | (#10886012)

There is a cell phone provider who is currently testing wireless VoIP now. It will be transparent to the customer as far as cost goes.

just think.... (0, Troll)

nil5 (538942) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881119)

mobile beowulf...... it's coming d00dz.

Great Idea (2, Insightful)

ReeprFlame (745959) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881125)

If only we would get great technology like that of Asia and Europe quicker in the US! I always thought it would be a good idea to get a mobile phone merged with voip [though over a WLAN link]. This would allow WLANs to be 2x useful and encourage huge meshes of APs in order to utilize them not on ly for data but voice as well. Only the future will tell us...

Re:Great Idea (3, Funny)

thepoch (698396) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881173)

Frankly, I can't wait for Japan to develop some sort of communicator that I can pin on my shirt, tap, and just say the name of the person I want to talk to with immediate and seamless translations.

Either that or the skull implanted cellphones Nokia is planning on that Linus talks about in his Just For Fun book.

Already been done - links inside (1)

Gerad (86818) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881300)

It's already been done, and they're being deployed, largely in hospitals and other health-care providers. Links:

Re:Great Idea (1)

n0tt00elite (832211) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883731)

I'm reading that book now. (Just For Fun)

Re:Great Idea (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883752)

"If only we would get great technology like that of Asia and Europe quicker in the US! "

What "great technology of Asia and Europe" are you talking about?

The same CDMA2000 1x EV-DO phones used in South Korea could be brought to the US. Verizon is deploying a CDMA2000 1x EV-DO network. 14 networks down, and they hope to have the entire network upgraded by the end of 2005.

Or did you mean the UMTS phones in Europe? ATT/Cingular is deploying UMTS.

Or did you mean the GSM phones used in Europe like the XDAIII? Those *already* work in the US. Choose ATT/Cingular or T-Mobile.

telco monopoly (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881137)

The telcos control the wireless airwaves, and lockin consumers to the phones they sell for their network. Of course they won't be selling phones with WiFi features that can cut their meters out of the loop. That's why, in the US, we have an FCC that vigorously defends our free market, right?

Re:telco monopoly (1)

captwheeler (573886) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881534)

Of course they won't be selling phones with WiFi features that can cut their meters out of the loop.

Most cell phones have free calls to co-workers/spouses/family in some manner. The wireless telco.'s won't loose their bussiness by having lower usage on their networks, they will loose it if the industry is standardized enough to work around them. Once they are just selling connections and not 'services' the profit goes down, and they are the provider of services because of a lack of standards.

Re:telco monopoly (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883578)

The telcos won't get to charge for WiFi->Internet VoIP calls, unless they're routed through their network and/or servers. The telcos are too lazy, because they're fat on legislated profits, to offer connections like that. So instead, they're afraid of those who do. At least in the USA, where we won't be seeing these WiFi/cellphones anytime soon. Even the Treo600, with its SDIO slot, was disabled from WiFi, as well as Bluetooth (for home VoIP connections). The new 650 has Bluetooth, and we'll have to wait to see about its WiFi support in the SDIO slot. Maybe the telcos are getting closer to taking advantage of the business. But probably not.

Re:telco monopoly (1)

Cato (8296) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888622)

Treo 600s and 650s don't support WiFi in the SDIO slot largely because of the power draw, even though there is an SDIO card already available with Palm drivers. Unfortunate but not a conspiracy by the big bad telcos...

Some mobile operators don't have any infrastructure at all, e.g. Virgin in UK and US, and many others in rest of Europe - these are the ones who will buy WiFi+GSM phones. However, without seamless handover from WiFi to/from GSM, they'll find it difficult to really sell a lot of VoIP over WiFi. The biggest initial selling point will be just having faster rates and lower cost when in WiFi range, without having to re-connect (easier to do for data than for voice, since interruption on voice call may drop the call).

Re:telco monopoly (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889191)

Actually, it's an open question why the 600/650 won't support WiFi in their SDIO slots. WiFi power draw should just make the uptime shorter, according to the SDIO spec, which provides enough to drive the card. It seems to work fine in T5s, so why not just turn off the CDMA/GSM radio when WiFi is on? No SDIO WiFi card has a driver for 600/650. Believe me, I've been tracking this problem very closely - I even got the WiFi driver bounty [] on the front page of Slashdot. There's just no conclusive reason why the phones won't support it, outside the Palm boardroom. So speculation is valid, though unproveable. That the T600 would do Bluetooth, except for the chip dropped from the phone motherboard at the last minute, further fuels the mystery.

Seamless WiFi handoffs between hotspots (run by different admins) is still experimental, though it looks like it's working. WiFi/GSM (or /CDMA) handoff will be harder, but the money in it means it will come. These innovations are actually long overdue, especially in the US, where wireless phone innovation is rare, but the market is huge. 5 years from now we might have to look back, phones in hand, and decide based on some actual information :).

As for VoIP (1)

ReeprFlame (745959) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881140)

VoIP should mean that charges are less due to the fact that most is over the internet. Only thing they should charge for is initial connection fee and the data services that the company offers and not necessarily connection time to the network... And let the connection fee vary slightly from month tyo month depending on usage [for every Five hours of talking every month, pay $5 extra].

will phones be cheaper then? (3, Interesting)

thnmnt (62145) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881145)

Why do we care unless these companies pass the savings from using open source software on to the consumers? i could care less what the underlying os of my phone is...unless of course i could get shell..cause maybe i'd like that..

Re:will phones be cheaper then? (1, Troll)

horrens (785051) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881174)

it shows that linux is gaining credability in the market

Re:will phones be cheaper then? (2, Insightful)

Gerad (86818) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881413)

Open Source Software is about more than just the bottom line. While a corporation may only consider OSS int erms of what it can save them, OSS is about much more. While the software is free as in beer, it's much more important that it is free as in speech.

First, even though they're using Linux, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're saving a significant amount. Anti-linux trolls have often said that Linux is only free if your time if valueless. While somewhat trite, this statement DOES have truth in it. It takes time and money to switch over to a new operating system - you may save money in the long run but the initial investment is often significant.

Just because YOU don't care what the underlying OS of your phone is, doesn't mean that others don't. Then inclusion of an Open Source operating system is significant for several reasons. It shows the increasing credibility and validity of Open Source. Every dollar spent developing an OSS solution is one less dollar given to Microsoft or a smilar corporation. By buying a product that runs off Linux instead of WinCE or a similar OS, people can be confident that they're not supporting a company that they find morally objectionable.

Open Source is about more than the bottom line, it's about the freedom to study, tinker with, and use software however you want. It's about the freedom not to be restricted by close-minded, selfish licences that will ultimately impede the progress of software development.

Re:will phones be cheaper then? (1)

thnmnt (62145) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881916)

your argument is a more general observation about the world of open source software, and while i agree with you about OSS philosophy, i still wonder about the choice to use this in consumer electronics device that i will use for a year and then toss out - because as good as the software is - the battery will still suck.

is it stability? as crappy as my phone os's have been - they've never crashed on me. i've also never had a phone running WinCe- it's usually openwave or some such thing.

>>it's about the freedom to study, tinker with, and use software however you want.

that's why i run linux on my desktop. i don't really want to do any of these things with my phone. i want to make and receive calls primarily. everything else is a bell and whistle and will most likely be done wrong - regardless of the os.

more than anything i'd like to see improvements in UI (both software and hardware) and this can be achieved using any os.

WOW (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10881181)

Cool article.

In Japan (-1, Offtopic)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881182)

In Soviet Russia the article titles do not cause a logical meltdown... in Japan.

The secret behind NT DoCoMo (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10881202)

It's just an anagram of "Not dotcom"

Re:The secret behind NT DoCoMo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887482)

How can you spell "Not dotcom" with only one T?

In Soviet Russia (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10881254)

In Soviet Russia there are no niggers.

1. No niggers.
2. ?
3. Profit!

All I want for Christmas (2, Funny)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881261)

is a small Linux PDA/phone with
  • wifi
  • 2-3 {USB|keyboard|mouse} ports
  • VGA output
  • use and boot from some kind solid state memory expansion
  • built-in screen doesn't have to be fancy, just big enough to display nmap output or run vi.

If my calling plan is reasonable, I don't care about VoIP.

What's a hacker to do? (2, Interesting)

Infinityis (807294) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881262)

Geez, this is like taking the wind out of the hackers' sails. I mean, if it's already got Linux on it, what are they gonna do? Any takers for being the first to put a Microsoft OS on one of these?

Re:What's a hacker to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882562)

What? You've never heard of Hacking Day(tm)??

You see, you have this stick see and... ahhh NM! I give up!

Re:What's a hacker to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10882604)

That's "Whacking Day(tm)" dumbass!

In Japan (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10881421)

Rape (reipu ^ ^) is like a handshake.

Do you think that tentacle rape is a new phenomenon in japan? In fact, they have been drawing such things since at least the 19th century []

The japanese think nothing of having intimate sexual relationsips with pubescent girls, even if the girl in question is your first cousin.

In short, japan is a pretty happenin' place.

So where's the source? (3, Interesting)

sudog (101964) | more than 9 years ago | (#10881655)

All these embedded Linux systems out there that distribute Linux are required to offer the source code for redistribution.

So where is it all? Or are they cheesing out and using only userland software to drive their phones?

(In which case, who cares if it's running Linux, because we can't do anything useful with it anyway?)

Re:So where's the source? (1)

gnalle (125916) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882079)

The source kernel source for the Motorola a760 linux phone is available on sourceforge [] .

But to me as an end user the real question is whether or not the phone uses an open protocol to synchronize with a computer. I believe that Treo 600 synchronizes flawlessly with gnome-pilot. This is why I want a Treo.

PS: Here is a page about initial attempts to connect a Linux box to a Motorola a760 [] .

Re:So where's the source? (1)

AgentCharlieBrown (788167) | more than 9 years ago | (#10884585)

I also would like to know more embedded projects that claim using linux to release their code. At this time the only ones I've heard of are linksys access points and the Motorola phone that's on sourceforge.

I propose... (1)

f8free (779580) | more than 9 years ago | (#10882347)

the Penny Arcade [] solution!

More Mobile Linux Phones (1)

wehe (135130) | more than 9 years ago | (#10883093)

Usually they are only available in China or Japan, but there are even more mobile Linux phones [] available. You may also enhance a Linux PDA [] with a GSM/GPRS CF-Card and turn it into a mobile SmartPhone this way.

GFirst 4ost (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10883416)

told reporte8S,

eh ? (1)

Matt_Joyce (816842) | more than 9 years ago | (#10885037)

Why is the OS important ?
Surely it's just the usefulness features, or coolness of the phone which matters.

Using linux is just manufacurers saving licensing costs of Sybian, but how does this affect consumers; the savings won't be passed on.

Personally, while they are still refered to as phones, and tarrifs are kept confusing and basically the same, the ubiquitous mobility revolution cannot start.
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