Ericsson's Screen Phone Runs Linux

by David Penn

If Internet use in general encourages alienation from our fellow human beings--as a number of news articles have been reporting of late--then Ericsson's new Screen Phone might just as well relegate passionate Web surfers to virtual solitary confinement.

According to the announcement from Ericsson, the new Screen Phone (a picture of the phone is available here) is part of the coming paradigm shift in consumer communications electronics that will "profoundly change the way we interact with ... home entertainment TV's, stereos, white goods ..." according to Jan Ahrenbring, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Ericsson Mobile Communications.

The Screen Phone (full name: the cordless Screen Phone HS210) allows users to access the Internet, e-mail and the telephone with a single, contained package. The Screen Phone's interface is a color touch screen, through which the Internet and other features can be quickly and easily accessed. The product is also equipped with a speakerphone to make it all the more convenient for Web surfers to gab on the phone while they sail through cyberspace.

Added Ahrenbring, "Bringing mobility to the home is a long-standing feature of Ericsson's strategy. Home is where we believe that people want to relax and find the balance in their busy lives, interacting with friends and family."

Of course, what's most interesting about the Screen Phone is the fact that it runs Linux. According to a statement from Ericsson, Linux was chosen because of the open source operating system's stability and size, as well as for its "openness", making it easier for a variety of future applications to be added.

Such as Opera, one of the more popular of the newer HTML browsers recently embraced by many in the open source community (or, at least, many in the anti-IE community). Moving to take advantage of the growing market for Internet devices, Opera Software, in 1998, ported its browser to a number of new platforms, including EPOC, BeOS, Apple Macintosh and the Linux OS.

Said Jon von Tetzchner, Opera Software's CEO and co-founder, "At Opera we're dedicated to making the Internet more accessible by providing small, fast and efficient browser software . . . The Screen Phone with its cordless Bluetooth solution in combination with Opera for Linux technology is a significant tool for interactivity."

Bluetooth, as the company notes in a FAQ, is a wireless technology and specification for "small-form factor, low-cost, short range radio" contact between mobile computers, phones and similar portable devices. The technology promises to replace multiple cable connections with single radio links, possibly providing for the smoothest marriage yet between portable computing and the Internet.

email: david@ssc.com

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