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Growth of Linux-Based Consumer Electronics

CRN reports that over the past six months, nearly every major consumer electronics (CE) vendor has developed plans to create home products running Linux to ensure product innovation and prevent another Microsoft market monopoly. At the same time, digital integrators are developing their own Linux-based home solutions, which often lead to higher margins and significant savings for their customers.

"Other operating systems are many hundreds of dollars more expensive, plus you have the incremental costs when new versions come out, and you have maintenance fees," says Ken Fuhrman, president of Westminster, Colorado-based Interact-TV, which makes the Linux-based Telly line of home entertainment servers. "Linux will have a much lower cost in the long term."

Linux also frees vendors and integrators from the reign of any single software vendor. "Fundamentally, having choice is a very attractive business proposition," says Scott Smyers, vice president of the Network and Systems Architecture Division at Sony Electronics and president of the steering committee of the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum (CELF), a consortium founded about a year ago to create a common standard of Linux requirements for CE devices. CELF now has more than 75 members, including Sony, Toshiba, Samsung Electronics, Royal Philips Electronics, Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic, Hitachi, NEC and IBM.

This platform-agnostic approach can ease CE device development and provide cost savings. Manufacturers and integrators have a wide pool of tools and software at their fingertips, as opposed to relying on support from vendors peddling a proprietary OS. Plus, it's easy to find developers to assist in particular projects. Linux supporters also point to its security, stability and networking strengths, which are important for always-on, networked CE devices.

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