Can OpenMoko break the wireless monopoly?

Can OpenMoko break the wireless monopoly?

Summary: Open source telephony takes a big step forward today as the OpenMoko neo1973 starts shipping to developers.

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Open Moko neo1973 open source mobile phontOpen source telephony takes a big step forward today as the OpenMoko neo1973 starts shipping to developers. Its public Wiki is also open for business.

The phone runs an open Linux kernel and what it calls Mobile FOSS, meaning everything inside it is Free and Open Source Software. Parts were chosen based on the availability of complete documentation.

The company behind this is run by Sean Moss-Pultz, who is based in Taiwan, and German Harold Welte, who may be best known for the GPL-Violations project. His blog describes just how tough it has been to get the project this far.

But can it get further? U.S. carriers are notorious for controlling the phones on their networks. CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint don't even use SIM cards, controlling access directly through hardware.

At best OpenMoko could become a way for activists to force open these networks, assuming we get a new FCC with a different attitude about open source.

Although if OpenMoko can find some success in more open markets, the argument will be much easier to make. Anyone here think that's possible?

And, yes, it does look kind of iPhone-ish. (Is that even a word?)

Topics: Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

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  • Stylus required?

    Well, it certainly is a 'break-through' Linux-embedded product, but as a cell-phone user and from a practical standpoint, it's not clear to me if the device is 100% touch screen driven.

    If not, then I assume you'd have to resort to using the stylus.

    Using a stylus with a cell-phone just doesn't sit well with me.

    Thanks Dana
    D T Schmitz
    • No

      It should not require a stylus, at least not the basic tasks like calling. But, seeing how open it is, as anyone could develop an application for OpenMoko there will probably also be applications that *need* a stylus. It ships with one, anyway, but there's no place in the phone to put it.
      Vinko_z
  • The iPhone looks OpenMoko-ish

    "And, yes, it does look kind of iPhone-ish. (Is that even a word?)"

    OpenMoko was there first. But then again, the iPhone was probably already in development when the OpenMoko was announced. So it's more just a coincidence. And of course, the fundamental difference is that OpenMoko is open and the iPhone as closed as it can be. Well, it can web apps through Safari, but all those apps can also be run by the browser that will be available for OpenMoko, as they use the same rendering engine (WebKit).
    Vinko_z
  • Since you asked

    [i]Anyone here think that?s possible?[/i]

    Everywhere but the USA, which is a relatively small mobile market.

    [i]And, yes, it does look kind of iPhone-ish. (Is that even a word?)[/i]

    I agree, it does look like Apple either copied some of the design or else they're both based on a common ancestor.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Convergence

      The way people think is similar despite culture or geography.

      Parts of what people want from a cellphone, what looks good to them, and (especially) how staff of the cellphone companies respond to demand are all going to be similar anywhere in the world.

      So it's possible that neither cellphone copied the other, nor did both have a common ancestor. Users and designers are people, and sometimes that's all it takes.


      As an aside, ask people to pick 6 numbers between 1 and 44 that no one else would ever pick, and many will pick the same 6 numbers.
      Being part of the same species produces commonalities.
      Anton Philidor
    • The USA IS a relatively small market

      I don't know why people aren't more upset over the relatively small size of the U.S. mobile market. No one seems ready to change government policy in order to make it better.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • Market size

        [i]I don't know why people aren't more upset over the relatively small size of the U.S. mobile market. No one seems ready to change government policy in order to make it better.[/i]

        Well, we could tax landlines into the same range that they cost in the rest of the world. That would help.

        Maybe I should send you some of the pictures I took last week of US 60 crossing the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plains_of_Saint_Augustine]Plains of St. Augustine.[/url] That also gets part of the situation across.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
    • GUI

      It almost looks like it has some kind of graphical user interface.

      Copy Cats. Hey, can they do that?
      D T Schmitz
      • Why not?

        [b]It almost looks like it has some kind of graphical user interface.

        Copy Cats. Hey, can they do that? [/b]

        There's this thing called "Prior Art" that says they can.

        For what it's worth, OpenMoko wasn't the first to have a GUI on a phone. Nor were they first to use Linux as it's OS. Trolltech's been around a few years longer.

        Nor were they the first to market a practical Linux based phone. Motorola, using the Trolltech Qtopia core, released the Motorola A1200 back in November 2005. There are at least 5 other Moto phones that also use this OS as it's core.
        Wolfie2K3
        • Exactly

          Sorry. I roped you into that.
          My 'dry' humor. :)
          D T Schmitz