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Cellphones Communications Hardware

No More OpenMoko Phone 219

Posted by timothy
from the now-what-will-you-run-debian-on? dept.
TuxMobil writes "Bad news for FreeRunner fans: development of the first Open Source smartphone will be discontinued. (English translation via Google) OpenMoko executive director Sean Moss-Pulz said at OpenExpo in Bern (Switzerland) that the number of staffers will be reduced to be able to stay in business. OpenMoko had high intentions: the offspring from Taiwanese electronic manufacturer First International Computer (FIC) wanted to produce an Open Source smartphone. Not only with Open Source software pre-installed, but with free drivers and open specifications of the hardware components. This would give programmers as well as users complete freedom. Up to now the manufacturer has produced two models, the first has sold 3,000 units and the second one 10,000. Both models were targeted primarily to developers. From the beginning, OpenMoko had to fight with different problems. The smartphones came onto the market after a huge delay. Some phones came with construction defects. Also, changes in the team slowed down the development. Software development for the current smartphone will be continued but with fewer resources, Moss-Pultz said. He still hopes the community will support the FreeRunner."
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No More OpenMoko Phone

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  • by miknix (1047580) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @05:41PM (#27460789) Homepage

    That's the point of buying an opensource phone. To use it as our sandbox.

    • by theArtificial (613980) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @05:43PM (#27460801)
      If sales reflect demand it appears that Joe Public doesn't see the value of an open source smart phone.
      • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @05:46PM (#27460837) Homepage Journal
        I would have bought one but they sold out very quickly. I assume they kept production runs short to reduce risk. But doing that guarantees failure. Lately I have been checking back on openmoko.com from time to time. There is no way to buy the phone on line, and the nearest dealer to me is in India.

        Its not like they made millions of the things and couldn't sell them.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Workaphobia (931620)

          I was always confused on when and even whether an openmoko phone would emerge that's suitable for use by a normal end-user in the US. Between the GSM chipset only supporting tri-band, news of various hardware defects that would require developer-grade patience to work around, and rumblings over the years suggesting that there would soon be more openness in the mobile smartphone market, I just never saw any opportunity to give them my money.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04, 2009 @05:48PM (#27460851)

        The problem was that the phone had some real glaring problems that were never resolved. Such as a one day battery life. And the inability to charge the phone after the battery wore out completely.

        I was going to be first in line to buy one when the power management problems were sorted out. But years later... they were still there. I'm really saddened that the phone never truly got the support it needed to succeed.

        So where does that leave us for free phones?

        • by causality (777677) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @05:57PM (#27460921)

          The problem was that the phone had some real glaring problems that were never resolved. Such as a one day battery life. And the inability to charge the phone after the battery wore out completely.

          I was going to be first in line to buy one when the power management problems were sorted out. But years later... they were still there. I'm really saddened that the phone never truly got the support it needed to succeed.

          So where does that leave us for free phones?

          Makes me wonder how many good ideas are ruined by poor implementation. I'm betting this is a very large number. The problem is that people throw out the baby with the bathwater and so they might conclude that open-source phones are inherently a bad idea, instead of concluding that this group failed to design/produce them correctly.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by theArtificial (613980)
            Even if an idea is tainted by poor implementation it provides something for future revisions to improve upon. If there is demand a healthy market will cater to it.
          • by coryking (104614) * on Saturday April 04, 2009 @06:07PM (#27460981) Homepage Journal

            "Ideas" are worthless. Everybody has good ideas. It is actually implementing the idea that is the hard part.

            In other words, the money (and the devil) is in the details.

            so they might conclude that open-source phones are inherently a bad idea

            I've not really followed this project, but aren't the design documents public? If so, some other company could pick this up and run with it, no?

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Narcocide (102829)

              Thats what I heard, however said other company would need to spend some considerable effort and money in addressing some serious hardware design flaws as well as what is now nearly obsoleted network support before the phone is once again viable as a phone.

            • by causality (777677)

              "Ideas" are worthless. Everybody has good ideas. It is actually implementing the idea that is the hard part.

              And every method by which anything would be implemented began as ... wait for it ... an idea. If you do not see the simplicity of that, it is because you don't want to. I'm not trying to be rude but "ideas are worthless" is a very strong claim and while it can be asserted, I do not believe it can be supported. A single idea that produced even the slightest worth for even one person would be enough

              • by coryking (104614) * on Saturday April 04, 2009 @06:27PM (#27461099) Homepage Journal

                If you do not see the simplicity of that, it is because you don't want to

                No, everything begins as an "idea", that part is obvious. But ideas in and of themselves are worthless until you implement them.

                It takes money to do that and no one wants to invest money into an operation that fails.

                There are a lot of great ideas that never get implemented because it turns out the implementation is too hard to make it worthwhile. For example, I think it would be a great idea if you could have a lawn-mower sharing service. A neighborhood could share one lawnmower and not have to all buy their own. Since you dont usually use it more than once or twice a month, it would be a great idea, right? Well, I doubt you could ever successfully implement it.

                By the way, in most cases, a good test of your idea is if others are doing similar things as you. If you are trying to create a business or product and nobody else is doing anything even close, odds are pretty good something is wrong with your idea. Not always, but usually...

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by causality (777677)

                  No, everything begins as an "idea", that part is obvious. But ideas in and of themselves are worthless until you implement them.

                  I can agree to that on the condition that we are speaking of "worth" in strictly materialistic or pragmatic terms. That is, however, an artificially narrow concept. Look at most forms of art and the ideas found there, or at philosophers who truly enjoy exploring the mysteries of life. Look at the idea of freedom and how very inconvenient and costly it can be, yet so utterly wor

                  • by coryking (104614) *

                    I'm using "value" in economic terms, not monetary terms. When economists talk about value, reward and gain, they aren't just talking about cash in your pocket. You can produce value in society and *not* get money.

                    You can be rewarded for your work without getting money. People who do volunteer do it because they are getting a different kind of reward... they feel good about themselves. The technical term for this is "psychic income [unc.edu]". Your artists and philosophers wouldn't do what they did unless they en

                • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                  by redcircle (796312)

                  But ideas in and of themselves are worthless until you implement them.

                  I think what you meant to say was:
                  "But ideas in and of themselves are worthless until you patent them and sell them to patent trolls"

                  • by wisty (1335733)

                    Or "Ideas in and of themselves are worthless until you steal them, and make at least three iterations to get rid of all the show-stoppers".

                • I know I'm replying to something completely off topic (and I have mod points!) but Portland, OR, US has been doing lawn mower sharing for awhile. http://www.northportlandtoollibrary.org/ [northportl...ibrary.org]

                  When there's an interest in an area it's also not that difficult to put together a share group for more obscure tools like CNC machines and lasers. http://www.portlandtechshop.com/ [portlandtechshop.com]
            • by mrmeval (662166)

              I agree. I had an Erickson phone and it was...a phone. It barely had a list of phone numbers with names. It is a large brick and I have used it as one with no ill effect...to the phone. I finally killed it after six years of abuse by dropping it in water then disassembling it and losing the elastomer conductor that joined the microphone to the board. I've hated every 'phone' I've had since.

              I want a phone. I want one with 30 days battery life. I want it to ... make phone calls. I now need the list of names w

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Zerth (26112)

                I wonder how hard it is to do a small-qty purchase of a cell-phone module. Just the bits that make phone calls and send/receive audio, over serial or whatever. Possibly also the simcard stuff, if that is necessary to be done by the radio hardware instead of software.

                Bring your own computing device(say a gumstix), display, and power.

                I'm sure that probably violates some FCC rules, so I haven't really tried to source one.

              • I had an old nokia brick for many (~7) years. It had a thick yet small screen, just as the phone itself was thick (maybe an inch). It supposedly had "games" and a "web browser" according to the menu, but I doubt it did anything well besides making calls and storing my contacts list, which was all I needed it for. I dropped it many times, and at one point was pushed into a pool while it was in my pocket, and it lasted and lasted. I only "upgraded" because the battery life had deteriorated down to a couple da

              • If you just want a phone for a phone, obviously it doesn't matter if it's open source or what operating system it runs.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Jurily (900488)

            Makes me wonder how many good ideas are ruined by poor implementation.

            You just described the history of computing.

          • Makes me wonder how many good ideas are ruined by poor implementation. I'm betting this is a very large number. The problem is that people throw out the baby with the bathwater and so they might conclude that open-source phones are inherently a bad idea, instead of concluding that this group failed to design/produce them correctly.

            Leonardo da Vinci sketched a car, and Karl benz according to the US patent office did more than any person to make it a reality, yet neither got the credit. Openmoko I think will be like that - computers are getting smaller, netbooks are the rage, projects like openPandora are pushing opensource hardware to its current limits, ie, the timing is right.

            Its only a matter of time before decent management and funding will make an opensource phone happen. Maybe Android is it, but its just too much java imho t

        • by vadim_t (324782)

          Same here.

          I would have bought it, if not for that. A phone with about a day worth of battery, which can't be charged if it discharges completely is unacceptable. Especially for a very experimental product made to be tinkered with.

          • by LuYu (519260)

            I read about the discharging thing on the website, but with my FreeRunner, I have not experienced this problem. Perhaps this is due to the fact that batteries recover their charge a little after some time (maybe an hour). After completely discharging the phone, I have always been able to charge it again by the time I got within range of an outlet.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Fizzl (209397)

              While I was working on Nokia 7710 [wikipedia.org] we had a batch of prototypes which had malfunctioning circuit in the charge control, which caused the phone to discharge the battery completely if left alone for long enough. We destroyed quite a load of batteries before a proto manager figured out what was going on.

              (And yeah, Nokia had an "iPhone" years ago. Badly marketed, too expensive and touchscreen&scalable UI postponed for years because of internal s60/s90 politics war. Still pisses me off :))

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by erko (806441)
          The battery is fine. The iphone only lasts 5 hours when running something, the openmoko developers version I have lasts 4 hours without suspending. If you suspend it when not in use (hit the power button), it can last a long time. Here's a log where the phone was mainly listening for calls with 70 hours standby time: http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/StandbyLifetime [openmoko.org]

          There are certainly issues, but battery life isn't the main one. Actual issues include:
          - some phones/networks experience a buzzing noise on p
          • The battery is fine. The iphone only lasts 5 hours when running something, the openmoko developers version I have lasts 4 hours without suspending. If you suspend it when not in use (hit the power button), it can last a long time. Here's a log where the phone was mainly listening for calls with 70 hours standby time:
            http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/StandbyLifetime [openmoko.org]

            There are certainly issues, but battery life isn't the main one.

            I'm sorry but I have to only partially agree. Yes, the battery life is OK, but actually putting the phone in suspend is a very dangerous thing to do. Coming out of suspend my FreeRunner gives a "white screen of death" at least 3/4 of the time. This requires a reboot to get out of (which isn't good if the phone came out of suspend due to an incoming call!). Turn off suspend and it gets 4-6 hours battery.

            I hear that it's been fixed very recently in a kernel update, but haven't reflashed it yet.

            As far as the c

        • whats the battery life on an iphone though?
          according to Google somewhere between 12 and 36 hours (apple ofc claim 300?), so id guess that smart phones have a limited battery life anyway.

        • by Nursie (632944)

          Actually, the one day life was remedied to some extent, through better software suspend. But your general point holds, there are hardware and software problems that never went away.

        • by rickb928 (945187)

          hmmm... sounds familiar.

          My G1 has about a one day battery life. I work around that fine now, but it was scary at first.

          And I have a Toshiba Gigabeat S60. If the battery runs down, you need the clunky AC charger to revive it, though I haven't bothered to wire up a USB-coax adapter to see if that would make me AC-independent. For those of you who don't have an S60, one way to run the battery down is to leave it out of 'hold' mode and put it in your laptop case. It dies overnight. Lock it, and it lives fo

        • The problem was that the phone had some real glaring problems that were never resolved. Such as a one day battery life. And the inability to charge the phone after the battery wore out completely.

          So I don't know much about openmoko, but you're saying that if you let the battery go to 0% that would brick the phone?

          You'd think someone would have caught that in testing...

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by mmontour (2208)

            So I don't know much about openmoko, but you're saying that if you let the battery go to 0% that would brick the phone?

            Not "bricked", it just won't power on unless you put in a battery that is not completely discharged (you can borrow a Nokia BL-*C from someone if you don't have another battery). This only affects the first batch of units ("A5"), and can be worked around in software by programming the PMU to charge the battery at 100mA when the device is off.

        • the phone had some real glaring problems that were never resolved. Such as a one day battery life.]

          You mean like the iPhone with Push e-mail enabled?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04, 2009 @05:55PM (#27460907)

        If sales reflect demand it appears that Joe Public doesn't see the value of an open source smart phone.

        Since when did Joe Public ever do a good job of looking after his own interests? "Freedom? Who needs that? Ooh, look, something shiny and new!" People like this cannot possibly sustain an open, non-dictatorial government for the same reason they cannot sustain an Open Source phone. I know those two things may seem unrelated but if you understand one, you understand the other, for the principle in question is quite scalable.

        • by coryking (104614) *

          Ironic because they were exercising their freedoms. They, under their own free will, examined all the mobile phone options, and freely choose *not* to buy an OpenMoko phone.

          Since when did Joe Public ever do a good job of looking after his own interests?

          Everybody has their own pet-interests. There are groups of people bitching about how Joe Public doesn't seem to care much about religion and use it as a sign that everybody but them sucks. Others wonder why everybody still uses Animal products--and uses sa

      • by meist3r (1061628)

        If sales reflect demand it appears that Joe Public doesn't see the value of an open source smart phone.

        Problem was ... there was never really anything that the public would have been interested in. All the devices sold were clearly marked as "not consumer ready" and missed tons of standard features to survive in the phone market. Of course people don't see the value in an open source smart phone because there is none, never was. That device was a developer toy and unfortunately never left that stage.

      • The problem was there was no effort to build any interest in it, and it was an clunky, terrible device. People obviously like phones with a lot of programmability, like the iPhone and G1, because they can get innovative apps (and not just overpriced junk like the phone companies offer), and being open source can help with that, but just being open source doesn't mean anything.

      • I'm not a developer, but I am interested enough in technology to read /. and be on the OpenMoko mailing list. I have been waiting almost two years for them to release a phone that I could buy and use. I don't care if it is buggy, I put up with that on my home computer as well (Fedora). I do care that it will make phone calls. I've been waiting two years for them to get that far! I don't know what they were working on (well, really, I do but I don't care) but they managed to not have a reliable PHONE in ther

    • who will, developers tend to scratch their itches, if they don't have the phone, and my guess is very few do, how can they develop for it.

  • by Nursie (632944) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @05:58PM (#27460931)

    As a pissed off Freerunner owner I have this to say -

    OM has been badly managed for some time now. Rather than concentrate on getting basic functionality going they wasted time and money doing things over and over and over again. They must have reinvented the wheel at least three times by now.

    No disrespect to the developers, but OM the company was a failure. In what they did and in how they failed to communicate properly with their community, ultimately ensuring there wasn't much of one.

    The only hope I have for getting a useful device out of the freerunner now is the (independant of OM) Android port.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Warbothong (905464)

      I agree. The OS bundled with the phone (Om.2007) has been obsolete since at least September (when I got mine), yet the official successor (Om.2008) hasn't really come out of testing yet.

      I've currently got Android on mine and Qt Extended on the MicroSD card. As far as I'm concerned the official software should've been abandoned long ago, but (ironically for a Free phone) they were too reluctant to give up control.

      Om.2008's a nice system to play with, but all of the bits that actually make it a phone (dialer,

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Nursie (632944)

        You know what would be really great?

        Well in my head anyway - android as a set of packages for debian, all on OM.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by erko (806441)
        Software-wise, I'm putting my bets on the FSO (freesmartphone.org) framework and distributions that use it. This includes FSO's testing distro, SHR, debian, and what was going to be Om.2009 with paroli.

        Om.2008 was never intended to be a long term solution. For me, Android has fewer programming language options and more hoops to jump through if I just want to write programs for my phone.

        I agree with you that openmoko management should have focused more on a single phone stack instead of restarting too m
  • by eclectro (227083) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @06:02PM (#27460949)

    If you RTPT (read the poor translation) they are laying off some employees and putting the ones that are left to work on a different electronic device (it didn't say what) that has been under development. They will continue to sell the freerunner and that they eventually want to return to mobile phone development. They hope that independent developers will continue to work on the phone in the meantime.

    • by Nursie (632944) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @06:10PM (#27460999)

      Which might have been more of a possibility if they'd effectively built a community rather than failing to communicate very well.

      It would also be easier if they'd got the basics (reliable kernel, GSM firmware, graphics acceleration) going rather than making eye candy, abandoning it, making more, abandoning it again...

      • The article mention of First International Computer was a tipoff that I really wasn't going to miss it - I've heard about enough problems with an FIC product and had heard enough independent confirmation to steer clear.

        • I meant to say:

          The article mention of First International Computer was a tipoff that I really wasn't going to miss it - I've had enough problems with an FIC product and had heard enough independent confirmation to steer clear.

          My mistake.

  • by Chas (5144) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @06:11PM (#27461017) Homepage Journal

    How is "downsizing" the equivallent of "no more"?

    Een-gleesh?

    Not even 101. Maybe 50.5. Maybe even 25.25. If worse comes to worst 12.625 (See Dick run. Run Dick run!)

  • by cliffjumper222 (229876) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @06:18PM (#27461055)

    With the advent of Android on Linux, OpenMoko can safely retire. There will be a flood of Android hardware out soon in addition to the G1 and at least some of it will be hackable or open enough for developers to delve into the stack if they want. For example, you'll be able to improve the hardware drivers, add functionality left out by the original makers because they feared patent infringement, and take advantage of hardware acceleration that didn't make it into the shipping product. Perhaps the only sacrosanct portion kept off limits will be the radio stack itself, which if hacked could invalidate the CE mark, FCC, GCF, PTCRB, etc.
     

    • The problem is that Android is better described as a vague derivative of Linux than GNU/Linux as we know it. It was developed by an independent company with an attitude of "not invented here." Getting their, ah, innovations into the Linux mainline is an exercise in pain for the kernel devs [livejournal.com], and if you want GNU/Linux as humans actually use it on it you need something similar to coLinux.

      tl;dr summary: the most Linux-like thing about Android is buzzword compatibility.

      • by lokedhs (672255)
        Obviously you don't have one. You can get pretty much everything running from the terminal if you want, as long as you install things like busybox.

        I find it to be a good compromise, and I'm actually happy that they don't include commandline tools that I won't need by default. If I need them, I can always install them.

        I have a HTC Dream developer unit and I have to admit that even though I've hacked around quite a bit with it, I never felt the need to have stuff like Perl on it. Perhaps that's why Andr

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SWPadnos (191329)

      With the advent of Android on Linux, OpenMoko can safely retire. There will be a flood of Android hardware out soon in addition to the G1 and at least some of it will be hackable or open enough for developers to delve into the stack if they want. For example, you'll be able to improve the hardware drivers, add functionality left out by the original makers because they feared patent infringement, and take advantage of hardware acceleration that didn't make it into the shipping product. Perhaps the only sacrosanct portion kept off limits will be the radio stack itself, which if hacked could invalidate the CE mark, FCC, GCF, PTCRB, etc.

      Android is software, not hardware. There is no guarantee that you will be able to write drivers, because not all manufacturers will give you datasheets without an NDA. There's no guarantee that you would get the source code to hardware drivers, since those can be non-GPL (resulting in a tainted kernel, but who cares, right?).

      Unlike Android, OpenMoko is software and hardware.

      You can also run Android on the OpenMoko hardware if you like (or Debian, or at least two other tailored distributions).

      To the others

    • by horza (87255)

      Why? Android is nothing like OpenMoko. The former is a limited rip-off of the iphone, the latter is a truly free (though incompetently implemented) platform. We need another version of OpenMoko but with a more focused dev team. Why should I have to jailbreak my phone to run my own software?

      Phillip.

  • There's a huge difference here - while Open source software can be produced by one or two guys in a basement, and be surrounded with joyful celebration of Free ideologies, hardware is material. Blueprints are data but nobody guarantees they will work until they're materialized. And this requires: factories, materials, go-betweens between all of them, legislature to comply to (FCC interference and wattage rules). In short, a whole bunch of people and organizations.

    In a philosophical mood, this could be tied

  • You realise of course that this was the real-life GNUphone [today.com].

    ...

    The Free Software Foundation (NASDAQ: RMS) has announced the Free Software alternative to the evil, DRM-infested, locked-down, defective-by-design iPhone: the GNUPhone.

    The key technical innovation of the GNUPhone is that it is completely operated from the command line. "What could be more intuitive than a bash prompt?" said seventeen-year-old Debian developer Hiram Nerdboy. "The ultimate one-dimensional desktop! Just type dial voice +1-555-1212 -ntwk verizon -prot cdma2000 -ssh-version 2 -a -l -q -9 -b -k -K 14 -x and away you go! Simple and obvious!"

    The phone will also serve as a versatile personal media player. "I can play any .au file or H.120 video with a single shell command! The iPod could never measure up to this powerful ease of use." Video is rendered into ASCII art with aalib. "If blocky ASCII teletype softcore pinups were good enough for 1970s minicomputer operators, they're good enough for you. Respect your elders."

    The KDE project will be bringing its next-generation KDE 4 desktop to the GNUPhone. "you can flip, twirl, dice, blend, fold, spindle and mutilate your terminal windows to your heart's content," said developer Aaron Seigo. "look at that cool effect! any complaint that basic functions don't actually work is ignorant of the intrinsic beauty of the plasma api and is just more fun spread by haters like stevie ray vaughan-nichols and novell corporation."

    Actual successful voice calls are expected by 2011 to 2012. Regulatory approval is proving problematic in the corrupt, corporate-captured US environment. "The FCC said that if we dared switch on this, uh, 'piece of shit' in a built-up area in its present form, they'd break all our fingers with a fourteen-pound cluebat," said Nerdboy. "They're obviously shilling for Apple, Nokia and Microsoft."

    The second version of the GNUPhone will run EMACS on the HURD kernel and be operated by writing eLisp macros on the fly. "It's the clearest, most elegant and natural operating environment anyone could conceive of," said Nerdboy. "Really, we're not out to destroy Apple; that will just be a completely unintentional side effect."

    • by hawk (1151)

      1. This should have been moderated "insightful," not "funny."

      2. Pursuant to requests from the usual suspect, this device will from now on be referred to as the "GNU/GNUphon"

      3. Actually, given GNU's contributions, it should be the "GNU/GNUGNU/Phone"

      hawk

    • I had to chuckle every time I read a FOSS zealot's dismissal of the iPhone as "bling," defending OpenMoko as a superior alternative.

      As an ideal, yes, an open phone OS is superior. But for actually using a phone, for actually running mobile applications, for actually keeping a calendar and a directory of contacts and syncing it and calling people when you need to and actually talking and getting things done, there is no comparison. OM isn't even in the same league as the iPhone OS.

      What it comes down to, of c

  • by Hairy1 (180056) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @06:49PM (#27461251) Homepage

    The Buzz generated by OpenMoko was huge; several people at my work were just waiting for something that could be used as a phone before they purchased one. We waited three months, then six months, and then finally gave up expecting anything. That was a year and a half ago.

    I got the Neo 1973 and used it in my autonomous boat project [youtube.com], as it had GPS, GPRS, could run Python and connect via USB to many types of devices. At this point while late there was still some promise.

    One issue was the desire to please the techies. In order to be a real success it would always have needed to operate well as a phone. It never really achieved that. I would have preferred to see development limited to providing basic phone functionality first, then once that was stable extending it.

    Instead it seemed that the Neo became a techie plaything, which was cool for me wanting a small device for my robotics, but not so good for a company trying to compete in the phone market where millions of units are sold. OpenMoko didn't deliver working software. The first rule of Open Source is to deliver something that works early.

    Although there is a community around OpenMoko I suspect it will move to platforms that have a real future on mobile devices now. The Android platform may not be perfect yet, but it holds far more promise as a polished product that techies can extend, yet is still a viable mass market phone.

    Personally I feel that Sean was too idealistic, and that OpenMoko needed someone stronger that could make some hard headed business decisions rather than making decisions that would see the total reworking of the platform when the first one wasn't even working.

    I am very disappointed that such a great opportunity has failed because those in charge misunderstood that the tech people were his market. Certainly a healthy community is a good thing, but you can't create a polished product by trying to please every man and his dog.

  • by sciurus0 (894908) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @06:58PM (#27461307)

    Reposting from http://lists.openmoko.org/pipermail/community/2009-April/044915.html [openmoko.org]

    Sean's speech at ESC about making a 3G device:

    Since I worked on the presentation with Sean for the days he was here in
    SF, let me give you my view and sean's view. That way we won't get into
    some version of the telephone game.

    Sean discussed three things at OpenExpo.

    1. Our successes.
    2. Our mistakes.
    3. Our challenges

    I won't go over 1& 2 but I'll cover #3 since rasters perception has
    a bit of color added to it. Only a tiny bit and he's entitled
    to that color commentary, I'll just add what Sean and I, as authors
    of the presentation, had as our message.

    Our biggest challenge was to make a choice about how to spend the
    balance of 2009.

    There were two paths:
    A: Fulfill our promises on FreeRunner and launch GTA03
    B: Fulfill our promises on FreeRunner and launch project B.

    We will talk more about project B in the coming months, but these
    salient facts should be able to guide any budding executives out there.

    1. GTA03 was in constant flux as a design.
    2. GTA03 schedule was consequently always slipping.
    3. The resources required for GTA03 are 3X those required for Project B.
    4. We don't have 3X.

    So, we picked plan B.

    Now comes the question, what about GTA03? how do we get there? And when?
    and what is it?

    Well my basic argument was and is this:

    First we attend to the issues that still remain with the GTA02. That's
    why the VP of marketing ( of all people) is working on the buzz fix
    problem. Second we complete project B. When we've done that, then we
    get to eat dessert. Essentially, I made the same argument I heard so
    many times on this list: "How do expect us to buy a GTA03 when you've
    yet to deliver on all the promise of FreeRunner?" And I took the
    arguments I heard from disty seriously, "how do you expect us to buy FR,
    when GTA03 is right around the corner?" And I accepted the arguments I
    heard from Engineers I respect who questioned the viability of the GTA03
    in the market place. All of those arguments said "put a bullet in its
    brain pan!"

        So, what about GTA03? As it was defined, it is dead. So how do we
    get to a new GTA03? Two requirements: continue to improve GTA02; deliver
    on project B. What is GTA03 and when do we get there? There are a number
    of independent efforts out there that are pitching me ideas for GTA03.
    I talked to sean a bit about this and I'd like to try to open up more
    of the design process and the marketing process to the community.
    Perhaps on a separate list. Some of these discussions have already started.

    What can you do to help?
    1. Move GTA02 code upstream.
    2. Stay Involved.
    3. Continue work on applications
    4. Buy a FreeRunner.
    5. Get involved in GTA03 discussions

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Warbothong (905464)

      I'm sorry, I know this story needs some influx from people higher up in the know, but to me that's an awful lot of buzzword bingo.

      I think I read it as someone's working on the buzzing issue, making a new model would be prohibitively expensive and would hurt sales of the current model, there's an announcement coming?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iksrazal_br (614172)
      Uh, with the limited developer resources openmoko has always had, spending a year on a cancelled project is clearly poor management. Releasing the Freerunner with broken hardware is also poor management. I'd feel better about openmoko's chances as a company if they fired the management instead of all the developers. That never happens though - which is often why companies fail.
  • There was a window of opportunity for the OpenMoko but this window is long gone. They failed to ship on time, and when they did it was a ultra-expensive **non-functional** toy.

    I, for one, kept waiting to buy one. But the reports of non-working hardware, and the other news about 3 or 4 different frameworks being worked upon, each of which not working properly for SMS + Calls, completely put me off. Point is there are not that many enthusiasts willing/able to throw so much money in the risky bet that the Free

    • Then Google releases Android: open enough and ***fully*** working. Is anybody surprised?

      Android's not fully working at all, since it's just an OS. You can't run it without a phone. That's where the Freerunner steps in :)

      Seriously, OpenMoko should never have written their own stuff when Qtopia was out there (and works very well thankyouverymuch). Now that Qtopia/Qt Extended's been discontinued then they should make the FreeRunner an Android phone. Better yet, package Android for Debian and use that.

      When Symbian finally becomes Free I'll bet there's a FreeRunner port pretty damned quick.

      • How many competent developers do you expect to be interested in porting software to a phone that doesn't support 3G? How many months will you have to wait? How many months have you been waiting?

        Honestly, I turned my G1 into a Android Developer Phone (it is possible). What am I missing?

        Mind you, I can have Debian running on it already.

  • by otakuj462 (1071510) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @07:09PM (#27461395)
    This has not been such a good year for open hardware projects. First OLPC, and now OpenMoko. I would say that both projects may have been overly ambitious, and were certainly poorly managed. I wonder, what will be next? OpenPandora [openpandora.org]? Can anyone list any successful open hardware projects?
  • Announced before the iPhone was released -and way before Android- this is just another great idea that had no traction because of poor management of the project. I'm glad I didn't buy one of these.
  • by iksrazal_br (614172) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @09:32PM (#27462215) Homepage
    Openmoko is now earily similair to a zombie company - keeps blowing sunshine while its developers quits or gets fired in droves, they stop building products, the only ones left are in marketing, and they linger on without doing much. The facts are:

    1) The 10,000 phones are mostly of the 900mhz variety, which has a "buzz" issue that makes the phone unusable. You need to go to a "buzz fix" party to do a non-trivial hardware mod. The "A7" version that fixes these issues is in perpetual delay, with no release date in site.

    2) The only two paid kernel developers have left this last month or have announced they are leaving, some key hardware guys have left in the last two months. Some key UI people have left over the last 6-8 months.

    3) They've abandoned the next model, the GT03, and they have publicly stated no 3G without a guaranteed sales of 50,000 units.

    I like the idea of Free software on mostly open hardware - only they can't for whatever reason get the hardware part right. I think the software is not the problem, its the hardware. The Freerunner has been described as a Porsche body with a lawnmower engine, and looking at openPandora, I scratch my head and wonder why its like that.

    IMHO its like any project that is going down the tubes - far too few developers on a project changing scope too often.

    Hardware's not easy - I damn near went insane from the politics of embedded linux projects myself - but I can't imagine working with a constantly changing hardware scope while everyone is leaving. I'd be pleasantly surprised if openmoko makes a comeback at this point - the first problem is I wonder how they could attract talent in the future, even if they could afford it.
  • TFA... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lalo Martins (2050)
    The title is technically correct, if misleading. The text in the link to the translation is just wrong.

    Sean did not say development is stopped. Development of the software stack is continuing. What has stopped (for now!) is the development of the next phone, codename GTA03.

  • Im not a heavy user, but openmoko is the only phone ive had that i want to carry around with me.

    I dont care so much about the current software, as long as it can fix (by me if it annoys me that much) then thats the main thing.

    I expect to use it as my one an only mobile phone for many years.

    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      I used mine daily for 5 months. Honestly, it was a cool idea, a cool toy, but a godawful cell phone. (I switched to a BlackBerry Bold in January...)

      However the FreeRunner is the best damn hand held touchscreen PC I've seen. As an appliance with GPS, Bluetooth and WiFi it's actually a very nice package. This thing is actually more powerful than most of the computers I owned 15 years ago.

      I currently have the third Koolu beta of Android installed right now and it makes a really nice web browser and eBook reade

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