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Openmoko ships Neo FreeRunner Linux phone

The open-source, touchscreen Neo FreeRunner is part of Openmoko's shift away from the early-adopter set and towards the mass market
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Openmoko's Neo FreeRunner open-source handset has finally shipped to distributors, marking an attempt by the mobile Linux company to move towards the mass market.

Although it will soon reach other parts of the world, the device has initially been shipped to three distribution companies in Germany — Golden Delicious Computers, Pulster and Trisoft — as well as Bearstech in France and IDA Systems in India, Openmoko announced on Wednesday. It will also be possible to buy the handset through Openmoko's website. The suggested retail price is $399 (£201).

The Neo FreeRunner has a VGA (480-by-640 pixel) touchscreen, internal GPS, Bluetooth, a 400MHz processor, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, two 3D accelerometers and SD-card expandability. Unusually for a mobile phone, it also includes a USB host function, meaning it can be used to power USB devices.

The device comes with a basic developer platform, but more software can be downloaded from the Openmoko developer site. It is the second mobile phone to be released by Openmoko, following last year's Neo1973 handset, and the company said it is working towards expanding the Openmoko platform's functionality "to address the needs of high potential vertical markets, such as academic, travel, science, and medicine, as well as refining the software for an eventual launch into the mass consumer market".

"We have moved beyond the early-adopter stage and are now ready to release the next-generation Neo FreeRunner to markets where we are seeing early traction," said Steve Mosher, Openmoko's vice president of marketing, on Wednesday. "These key distributors have relationships that reach deeply into markets that can leverage the features of this remarkable mobile device and advance it even further through software and exterior customisation."

The Openmoko platform is open-sourced under the General Public License (GPL) and Lesser General Public License (LGPL), and the stack includes a full X server. Openmoko has also released all the CAD files under Creative Commons, so as to let industrial designers and engineers customise the phone as they wish.


Openmoko's Neo FreeRunner may be the open-source world's answer to the iPhone
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