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Linux and Windows heat up mobile market

Apple has had a solid run with its iPhone in the mobile market, but new Linux and Windows initiatives threaten to give Apple a run for its money.

For those resigned to 30 years of Apple dominance in the mobile market, think again. While Apple clearly hit a home run with the iPhone, it's now under several serious threats from the Linux camp, and it seems Microsoft might finally have its act together with Windows Phone 7 Series.

Time to kiss your iPhone goodbye?

Maybe. Google had already been giving the iPhone serious competition with its Linux-based Android platform, but Monday Intel and Nokia joined forces with their own Linux initiative, MeeGo.

MeeGo is an amalgamation of Intel's Moblin and Nokia's Maemo, two initiatives that never really took off on their own. The companies hope that by joining forces under the banner of the Linux Foundation, MeeGo will be for mobile what Linux has been for enterprise servers.

MeeGo looks promising, as Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin opines, but it has a long way to go. And as much as MeeGo could be mobile Linux's "IBM moment," it could just as easily be its "United Linux" moment.

That's when a gang of runners-up attempted to displace Red Hat at the top of the Linux heap through competition-by-committee. It didn't work.

ARM is to MeeGo as Red Hat was to United Linux. Despite proffering MeeGo as a common platform for both Intel- and ARM-based chips, it's likely that it will work best with Intel technology. To credibly compete, MeeGo needs ARM's full support.

ARM could heavily invest in MeeGo, of course, but given that it, not Intel, is already the mobile chip leader, it's unclear why it would forgo that lead to double-down on Intel's initiative, just as Red Hat sidestepped the United Linux dance and eventually became the Linux that much of the industry unitedly dances around.

Putting ARM aside, however, what about Google? Google didn't join the MeeGo party, preferring to focus on its Android platform, a platform seeing broad-based momentum on a wide range of devices.

Then there's Microsoft. It, after all, may finally have its mobile act together, with its newest rev of Windows Mobile (called Windows Phone 7 Series). As CNET's Ina Fried writes, there's still much we don't know about this new release, but the news continues to flow in.

After years of trying to make phones look/feel/act like personal computers to extend its PC lead to mobile, Microsoft seems to finally have a clue. With "a clue," Microsoft can do a lot of damage to Apple and the Linux-based upstarts.

One party that probably won't dominate the market is Samsung. This has nothing to do with its technology, which is great, and everything to do with its hubris, which isn't. Thomas Richter, head of Samsung portfolio management, argues that the company's new Bada operating system-based "Wave" product is "unbeatable in every aspect."

I guess we'll have to take Samsung's word for it.

With MeeGo, Android, Windows Phone 7 Series (can't someone help Microsoft with its product naming?), Bada, Symbian, etc., the mobile market is the most interesting and competitive market in technology today. Given this environment, it's premature to cede the victory to Apple. There's far too much going on to assume one company with one device will win everything.