OpenMoko promises open devices

A bunch of open source proponents brought the General Public Licence (GPL) ethos to the mobile platform on Tuesday, pitching a community driven effort to create an open platform that allows people to customise their phone any way they see fit.

The brainchild of open Linux proponent Sean Moss-Pultz and backed by Taiwanese motherboard and electronics firm FIC, OpenMoko promises to bring the open source Linux efforts of the desktop to the mobile handset.

Mobile phone operating systems are largely proprietary and fragmented and even Linux-based offerings tend to run the Linux kernel with a proprietary and often locked-down top layer. But OpenMoko, which is initially targeted at the developer market, uses the latest 2.6.18 kernel and replicates the desktop environment on a pocket sized device.

“For the first time, the mobile ecosystem will be as open as the PC, and mobile applications equally as diverse and more easily accessible,” said Moss-Pultz.

As a business model, the architect of the OpenMoko platform also sees the market for downloadable open source applications as the natural successor to the multi-billion dollar ringtone market.

The first OpenMoko device, the Neo1973, built by FIC will be available in January 2007, boasting a 2.8″ VGA touch screen, A-GPS, 128MB of memory, a microSD card slot, Bluetooth and USB. Wifi is on the future roadmap.

The device operates on the GSM850/900/1800/1900 bands and features plenty pf geek tools like an application manager, the OpenMoko Software Development Kit and Funambol push email and PIM synchronization support. The device aims to support the much sought after write once, run anywhere functionality on the mobile device. Presumably, unless the API’s change between model shipments, the same applications can be deployed across any device.


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