A group of top mobile phone makers and operators are launching a foundation to create an open Linux-based software platform for mobile devices, they said on Thursday. The companies, including Motorola, Vodafone Group, NTT DoCoMo, Samsung Electronics, NEC and Panasonic Mobile Communications, plan to focus on the development and marketing of an application program interface (API) specification, architecture and source reference. The group hopes to create a collaborative environment to build a mobile Linux development ecosystem and work to minimize fragmentation in the market. Initially, the founders plan to be responsible for the reference implementation of the mobile operating platform but will later invite other companies to join, including phone makers, operators, chip manufacturers and software vendors. The foundation also hopes to offer a test suite so that developers can demonstrate that their products conform to the specification. Linux is already a popular operating system for phones in China and is just gaining momentum in Europe. Operators and phone makers say that using Linux can help them reduce the cost of handsets. This will be the third mobile Linux group to launch within a year, joining the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum and the Mobile Linux Initiative (MLI). Like the new foundation launched on Friday, the LiPS Forum aims to focus on the creation of APIs to enable interoperability of applications across Linux handsets. PalmSource, France Telecom and Orange are among the leaders of LiPS. The MLI, with members that include Motorola and PalmSource, is working on unifying developments around the mobile Linux kernel.-Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service (Dublin Bureau)Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.