Monday, July 09, 2007

Will the Neo1973 smart phone become a viable Open Source alternative to Apple's iPhone?

Apple's iPhone is making a big splash, and is setting a standard that other phones will be compared to. The market is responding, and we are going to see an increasing number of cell phones with features like the iPhone.

There is an open source software phone coming out that looks very promising, the first model is being called the Neo 1973 smart phone, by a company called OpenMoko. It has a touch screen like the iPhone, and... here's an excerpt from an article in eWeek:

OpenMoko: An iPhone Alternative for Developers?
[...] although the concepts behind both the iPhone and an OpenMoko-based phone are similar, "fundamentally, we're totally different," Moss-Pultz said in an interview with eWEEK. "End user freedom is our passion. Apple is about giving you an incredibly polished experience—exactly how they want you to have it. The end user really has no freedom. They cannot change the device if they don't like the way Apple choose to make things. OpenMoko is the anti-iPhone."

He said he likes to describe OpenMoko as a movement to create an open platform that empowers customers to personalize their phone—much like a computer—in any way they see fit.

"Apple makes sure their entire software stack stays closed," Moss-Pultz said. "We chose to make the entire software stack open. From a control standpoint—the things corporations love—this borders on insanity. But, I think, by pushing these borders, we will let loose the possibility for immense innovation." [...]

It's available for purchase now, for about $300, although it's being aimed at developers right now; I believe anyone can buy one, but it won't really be marketed to the general public until October.

I've read that it's not as slick and polished as the iPhone is right now, but it does have the potential to be a real contender. I'll be keeping an eye on this one. Their main website is here:

Latest on OpenMoko

There is another interesting article at

Forget iPhone, hail OpenMoko, the true revolution
[...] The current situation in the mobile phone market isn't very flattering if you care about standardization and openness. Basically every manufacturer has their own proprietary platform. If you want to extend your mobile phone with new features and software you are generally dependable solely on the phone manufacturer itself. The vision behind OpenMoko describes a completely different world. It is a world where there is a common standard platform for mobile phones which is open and therefore friendly to developers. It is a world where once you buy your phone you can install or remove software from it as you wish, customizing the phone and its capabilities in much the similar manner you can customize your PC. It is a world which is, thanks to the visionaries and enthusiasts behind the OpenMoko project, near.

This is the real mobile communications revolution we should be expecting. It is not merely about creating a technologically superior mobile phone that looks good. It is about creating an open common environment which welcomes innovators of all kinds to converge and create technological superiority not dependable on one vendor. [...]
(bold emphasis mine) My greatest interest in open source software is based on the fact that I don't want to be "locked" into using one vendor's software, be it Microsoft, Apple, or anyone else. I want to be free to pick and choose the software on any of my digital devices, and be free to customize it to my needs as much as possible. In this regard, I think the Neo Smart Phone shows great promise.

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