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Ceo Interview Roger Kung Of E28
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T/nox Devices presents this exclusive interview with Roger Kung, Chairman and CEO of E28, a Linux smart-phone startup in Shanghai, China. E28 was the first company to ship a Linux smart-phone, and could unveil a Linux smart-phone for the US as early as the Boston Linux World Expo.
Roger Kung is well-known in the mobile phone industry, having served as President of Motorola's Asia operation , which he grew from annual sales
strongly advocated Linux smart-phones at Motorola, and he retired from Motorola in 2002 to found E28, a company entirely focused on Linux smart-phones.
Can you share some general background on E28, its vision, and why it chose Linux to power its smart-phones?
A. Roger; The company was founded in October of 2002 with the vision that the industry will quickly move from fashion and feature phones4 to smart-phones. Also, we believe strongly that content and smart-phones need to closely tie together in order to move the industry further.
When E28 was founded, we wanted to build two very important platforms; a mobile content platform and a smart-phone platform for 2.5G and 3G. It's our strong belief that, in the future, if a company only focuses on phones, without a focus on content and a phone-related ecosystem7, they will fail. The industry is moving from voice to data, and it is the total ecosystem that counts, instead of only just the phone.
That's why when E28 defines products, we don't do so in the traditional industry way, which is very much hardware feature oriented. We won't be searching for a one-megapixel camera, or a certain level of color display. Rather,E28 is defined as a mobile communication experience. That's what we're looking for.
Q. Do you expect Linux to become a major operating system in smart-phones?
Q. Roger; What E28 is trying to do is to promote Linux as a major operating system for mobile and embedded applications. As we announced at the San Francisco Linux World, E28 wants to be the major mover for the Linux Mobile Alliance, with the intent to boost embedded Linux as a major smart-phone operating system.
We currently believe Linux is the best choice for an embedded system, particularly for smart-phone applications. Our belief is that with Nokia taking a majority ownership of the company of Symbian that basically kicks out Symbian as a popular operating system for mobile phone applications. It's only Linux and Windows left on the major battleground. It is E28's goal to do everything possible to make Linux a major operating system for embedded applications.
Q. How many employees does E28 have, and where are its offices?
A. Roger: Currently we have 170 people. We have offices in three locations. Shanghai China is our headquarters and also major R&D" center, where we have about 140 people.
When we think about strategy, we would like to be a global player, even though we started in China and we will for sure cultivate the China market. But we have already marketed our first product in Hong Kong, and also Singapore. Our second product will expand from this territory into Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and also the rest of Southeast Asia. Our third product is fully intended for the US and European markets.
We would like to make our third product the highest-performance multimedia smart-phone, meaning it has the longest video recording and playback time than any other phone on the market. It will have the best video qualityâ€”and the best audio qualityâ€”this phone will have dual speakers and surround sound to enhance the overall multimedia effect.
We're working very closely with Loi and Dave [at Sea Quad] to launch our third product, Venus, into the US market. Our current timing is still under discussion, but according to Loi's recommendation we may announce the US product at the Boston Linux World Conference [Feb. 14-17, 2005].
Q. Can you explain where the name "E28" came from?
A. Roger;Our major investor is Inventec Corp. " , and their vice chairman is Sayling Wen. He and myself were middle school and also high school classmates for six years. The name for our class was called E28. That was back in Taiwan, when the government decided to have a special experiment with the education system, and we were chosen as a test. That's what " E" re-presentsâ€”it's for "experiment"â€”experiment class number 28.
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