Koolu readies Cupcake-based mobile phone

Open-phone firm Koolu will ship an Android Cupcake-based mobile phone for developers by early June

Open-phone specialist Koolu says it is two weeks from shipping beta developer versions of the Neo FreeRunner mobile phone running Google's open-source Android Cupcake operating system. Full consumer versions should follow towards the middle of July.

Koolu is using the GTA02 version of the Neo FreeRunner from Openmoko, which is entirely based on open phone standards.

Speaking to ZDNet UK at the Cloud Expo Europe conference in London, Koolu chief technology officer Jon 'maddog' Hall said the phone is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses and developing countries.

"We're targeting businesses that want functionality in their phone that they can't get from Apple, RIM or any of the proprietary companies," said Hall.

He said a beta version would be available for software developers and providers to port their applications to by early June. "About a month after that we should have a consumer-ready version," he added. The phone will be available worldwide.

According to Hall, who is also executive director of not-for-profit user organisation Linux International, telephony is "the last bastion of closedness in our computer society".

He said the Koolu phone was a response to the restrictions on use imposed by telephone companies. "They say, 'Sure, we'll sell you a telephone, but you have to use these services for this period of time and we're going to be your carrier and your ISP and don't you dare use voice over IP because we don't make any money that way'. And the customers say, 'Wait a minute, I paid for the freaking phone and it's mine, so why can't I use it as I want to?'," said Hall.

Users should be able to decide which operating systems they want to run on their phone and choose the carrier. "This is a very open concept and it gives you control all the way from your handset to your datacentre for the first time," said Hall.