Michael Shiloh, head of developer relations
Michael Shiloh, head of developer relations
[Click to enlarge image]

OpenMoko announced at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference that it will start selling mobile phones to general consumers.

OpenMoko (run by Openmoko Inc of Taiwan, a subsidiary of First International Computer Inc of Taiwan) is a developer of mobile phones using open-source hardware and software. OpenMoko developed OpenMoko Linux and Neo, which are open-source software platform and hardware for mobile phones. OpenMoko Linux uses Linux as its OS kernel and employs X11 and GTK as its window systems.

"OpenMoko Linux is entirely composed of open-source software," said Michael Shiloh, head of developer relations.

The hardware developed by OpenMoko is called "Neo." It incorporates a 400MHz microprocessor with an ARM core, a 640 x 480 display with a touch panel, GPS and wireless LAN functionalities, etc. It also works as a controller for USB, thus facilitating the connection to peripheral devices.

The company unveiled block diagrams of the hardware, the connections between the chips, JTAG interface, etc as well as CAD data of the product. This is why it is called "the open-source hardware." Dash Navigation Inc employed the design based on Neo for its PND "Dash Express" with the Internet access capability.

Thus far, OpenMoko has been selling Neo 1973, a mobile phone handset designed to run OpenMoko, exclusively to developers, but it is now sold out, according to the company. The successor under the name "Neo Freerunner" is currently under development.

"Its successor, Neo Freerunner, is already in the testing phase," Shiloh said. "If you don't mind having to go through the trouble of reinstalling the software and so on, you can get your hands on one within a several months. But the Freerunner will be sold as a consumer product, so users who wish to get it with software having the same quality will have to wait six months or so."