Openmoko discontinued?

Translation of Vorläufig kein weiteres Linux-Telefon

Not another Linux-Phone

by Mathias Born. Updated 02.04.2009

Bad news for libertarians: Openmoko suspended development of the GTA03 smartphone until further notice and laid off part of its staff. The managing director said that this would be the only way for the company to survive in the long-term.

For the time being Openmoko abandons development work on the next generation of the current Freerunner smartphone. Furthermore the Taiwanese company releases almost half of its staff. This is what Openmoko managing director Sean Moss-Pultz said today at the Opensource trade show “Openexpo” in Bern. Partially the staff had been given notice; partially the staff had resigned voluntarily. “We have arrived at a critical point”, said Moss-Pultz. “This measures are absolutely necessary to even stay in business.”

Openmoko’s aim was ambitious: The subsidiary of the Taiwanese component manufacturer First International Computer (FIC) wanted to produce an Opensource-Smartphone. The source code was supposed to be freely available as well as the drivers and the specification of the components. Therefore software developers can reprogram the mobile phone at will. So far the company has produced two devices; the first one as a series of 3000 samples, the second one having been sold 10’000 times so far. Both are targeted at developers. The project was experiencing difficulties from the very beginning: The launch dates were postponed. Some batches had design faults. Furthermore there was a change in staff, which delayed development. At the middle of this year the software should have been stable enough for allowing the phone to be used in every day life.

Plan B

Openmoko now focusses on “Plan B” according to Sean Moss-Pultz. “For business reasons we have choosen the second device which we have in our pipeline.” He would not be free to disclose any more details. However it would not be about a telecommunication device. In contrast to the smartphone the first version is going to already target the mass market. Also this product is going to be developed with Opensource software he assured.

The development of the software for the Openmoko-Smartphone would continue said Moss-Pultz, however with less resources. Therefore he places great hope on the community. “Buy a Freerunner, help to fix the bugs and write new programs” he appealed to his audience during his presentation at the Openexpo. He hopes to also use those lateron on a new device. “Also in the future we want to produce mobile phones.” (Berner Zeitung)

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