Japanese consumer electronics giants Sony and Panasonic announced that they will be co-developing a Linux distribution for “digital home electronic devices.” As consumer electronics devices increasingly take on the capabilities of computers, makers need a sophisticated operating system to run them, and many have already turned to Linux. (like Tivo). See the Press Release.
Linux is an appealing choice because with the slim margins and stiff competition for electronics devices, a licensing fee to a company like Microsoft would drive up the price too much. Sony and Panasonic have probably realized that it would be uneconomical for them to develop in-house and thus control their own OS to keep a competitive advantage, so the next best thing is to share the development and maintenance burden with their competitors, and commoditize the OS. In keeping with this idea, during the joint announcement, Sony and Panasonic invited their competitors (Hitachi, IBM, NEC, Philips, Samsung and Sharp) to take part in the project. All of their work will be released under the GPL.