Verizon Wireless and semiconductor maker Infineon Technologies AG (IFX) have joined the LiMo Foundation, a group of communications companies pushing to make Linux the standard operating system for wireless products worldwide.
Verizon Wireless, the second-largest U.S. mobile-phone company, will take a seat on the board of the LiMo Foundation, according to a statement. Six companies, including phone maker Motorola Inc., formed LiMo in January 2007. Today's announcement of eight new member companies brings LiMo membership to 40.
A unified system could cut the cost of manufacturing phones and simplify the software used in them. LiMo's competitors include Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world's biggest software maker, and Google Inc. (GOOG), which is developing a Linux-based operating system for mobile devices called Android.
``We expect that Linux Mobile would rapidly become our preferred operating system, and the one that developers would look to first,'' Verizon Wireless (VZ)'s vice president of network technology development, Kyle Malady, said on a conference call.
Verizon Wireless's participation is a way to help expand mobile products without excluding other operating systems, Malady said. The company already supports systems from companies including Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry, he said.
The first Verizon Wireless phones with LiMo software will probably be released in 2009, Malady said. He declined to say how much the company will contribute to the LiMo Foundation.
Verizon Wireless is the largest U.S. wireless provider to become a member. AT&T, the only bigger U.S. carrier, hasn't joined. Infineon is Europe's second-largest semiconductor maker by sales.
Newbury, England-based Vodafone Group Plc (VOD), the world's biggest mobile-phone company, owns 45 percent of Verizon Wireless, which is based in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. New York- based Verizon Communications Inc. owns the rest.
Verizon Communications shares rose 84 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $38.95 at 4:01 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have dropped 10 percent this year.
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