Free Your Phone

Sean Moss-Pultz sean_mosko at
Sat Jan 20 07:06:22 CET 2007

Dear Community,

"The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave
themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are
indistinguishable from it."

Mark Weiser wrote those words almost 15 years ago in a Scientific
American article titled, "The Computer for the 21st Century." In it, he
coined the term "ubiquitous computing", and proposed a set of ground
rules for  devices of the 21st century.

Temporally, we're here. Technologically, we're close. But everyone
still seems to be talking about ubiquitous computing like a mirage on
desert road: it's always the same distance away. Sometimes looking at
common every day objects with a fresh perspective yields interesting
new ideas.  Today we're going to propose that the foundation for
ubiquitous computing is already here. All that is stopping us from
going forward is change of context.

Almost everyone we know has a mobile phone. Mobile phones have become
part of the fabric of everyday life. Does this mean that the mobile
phone is  the ubiquitous computing device we've all waited for?
Currently, no. But with a subtle change we would argue, yes.

Mobile phones are closed environments created with a mobile context in
mind.  But this concept is limiting; a mobile phone has the potential
to be a platform that can do anything that a small computer with
broadband access can do. If mobile phones were based on open platforms,
they would have the potential to bring computing to people in a ways
traditional computers cannot. Mobile phones can become ubiquitous

Ubiquitous computing, however, does not simply mean computers that can
be carried to work, to the home, to the beach, and to the movies.
Ubiquitous computers must know where they are, and then must be able to
merge into the environment.

We put GPS functionality into the Neo1973, because when your phone
simply knows its location, it can adapt its behavior in significant
ways without even a hint of artificial intelligence.

How can devices disappear into the background? To be honest, we have
far more questions than answers here. But do we know what is needed for
exploring this idea. Developers must have unrestricted access to
hardware at all times.  Being able to control the microphone, for
example, will allow phones to sense ambient noise. A simple program
could prevent your phone from ringing while you're in a conversation.

We will always try our absolute best to give you devices that are as
open as possible. Our goal is freeing end-users and businesses alike
from proprietary constraints. We're about encouraging people to modify
and personalize their software to support their individual needs.
Building products as we do, we strive to enable people to connect and
communicate in new and relevant ways, using their own languages and
their own symbols.

Our company is unconventional, We openly share our roadmap. And today
we're going to share it with you. (Hopefully, by now, there isn't a
single person left on this list who thinks we're conventional ;-)

Your participation, in terms of actual code, hardware features,
suggestions, and usage-scenarios will shape product features of our

So here it is, divided into 3 phases, that will repeat annually:

    2007-02-11 Phase 0: Developer Preview
    We will give away free phones to selected members of the developer
    community. At this point, the full source code to the OpenMoko Linux
    Distribution will become publicly available. We are committed to
    cooperating with the community in the interest of making the
    official developer launch a smooth experience.

    In the last month we've seen a huge increase of interest in
    OpenMoko. To be perfectly honest, we're doing this give away as a
    system of "checks and balances." We want to get the framework right,
    the first time around.

    Also, at this time, the following community dedicated websites
    will be available:

    * -- for the actual development community
    * -- for an official wiki of the project
    * -- for bug tracking
    * -- for public mailing lists
    * -- for an aggregated feed
    * -- for user-contributed projects

    2007-03-11 Phase 1: Official Developer Launch
    We will sell the Neo1973 direct from for US$350 plus
    shipping. Sales and orders will be worldwide. We are specifically
    targeting open source community developers.

    2007-09-11 Phase 2: Mass Market Sale
    Online sales will continue. We will also be available in a retail
    stores and selected carriers around the world. At this point, we
    hope your mom and dad will want to buy a Neo1973, too.

    The 2nd generation OpenMoko device will also be introduced at this
    time. We have something special in the works, but again, you will
    help shape this device.

Next, we would like to reconfirm the hardware components (nothing has
changed here) and talk a bit about software. We will have

FIC Neo1973:
* 120.7 x 62 x 18.5 (mm)
* 2.8" VGA (480x640) TFT Screen
* Samsung s3c2410 SoC @ 266 MHz
* Global Locate AGPS chip
* Ti GPRS (2.5G not EDGE)
* Unpowered USB 1.1
* Touchscreen
* micro-sd slot
* 2.5mm audio jack
* 2 additional buttons
* 1200 mAh battery (charged over USB)
* 128 MB SDRAM
* 64 MB NAND Flash
* Bluetooth (2.0)

The OpenMoko Linux Distribution will be built with OpenEmbedded. The
developer devices will be based on the following software:

* Linux
* gcc 4.1.1
* binutils
* glibc 2.4
* Xorg 7.1
* glib 2.6.4
* gtk 2.6.10
* dbus 0.9
* eds
* (more)

The OpenMoko application framework adds C-APIs on top of Gtk+, Dbus,
GConf, and EDS. The UI will be implemented with GObject based classes

* MokoApplication -- base application class
* MokoPanedWindow -- base class for stylus main windows
* MokoMenuBox -- menu widget holding application and filter menu
* MokoFingerWindow -- base class for finger main windows
* MokoFingerWheel -- rotary finger wheel
* MokoFingerToolBox -- finger tool box
* (more)

A set of core applications using this OpenMoko framework is under
development.  Of course, you will be able to use a lot of "legacy" X11
applications, as well.


We want your involvement in OpenMoko. Now is a great time for us to
work together. You'll have our full support. We're dedicated to helping
you "Free Your Phone." And we're always looking, listening, and hungry
for new things.  It is our goal to be totally market driven.

To be market-driven requires a willingness to experiment. OpenMoko will
provide discounted phones to people in "improbable" markets. We're
interested in what people in these markets can do with our products,
whether they can use them at all, or what it would have to be like for
them to become customers.

We will start out with the assumption that our product may find
customers in previously ignored markets; that uses no one imagined when
the product was designed will be found; and that Neo1973 will be bought
by customers outside our field of vision and even unknown to our sales

We need you to talk to us. Tell us what you want. We promise we will
listen.  Your feedback will help evolve our roadmap.

The real power of an open phone comes not from any one of these
devices; it emerges from the interaction of all the users of "freed
phones." We can create true ubiquitous computing in Weiser's terms.
This will be the computer of the 21st century.

At this point, we should tell you why we chose the name "Neo1973."
"Neo" means new. Dr. Marty Cooper (the inventor of the mobile phone)
made the first call ever in 1973.

We believe that an open source mobile phone can revolutionize, once
again, the world of communication. This will be the New 1973.

Join us. "Free Your Phone."


The OpenMoko Team

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