Apple's iPhone announcement on Tuesday managed to capture most of the early buzz at CES, but no one was happier with the announcement than OpenMoko's Sean Moss-Pultz, the brainchild behind the Neo1973—the world's first open-source consumer mobile phone. The way Moss-Pultz sees it, the iPhone will do two things: get Americans to expect more from their mobile phones, and get them used to paying for them on their own, rather than getting them free through rebates from carriers—two ideas that the rest of the world have already adopted and which Moss-Pultz sees as key to the life of his brainchild in the U.S. market.
Making its official U.S. debut here at CES, the Neo1973 (built by FIC, a prominent Taiwanese electronics manufacturer) is a feature-rich smartphone with a touch-screen interface, a 266 MHz processor and a built-in GPS module, all running on an entirely open platform called OpenMoko. "Open" meaning its source code is available to anyone, clearing the way for the world's millions of Linux programmers to create applications for the phone—applications which will be made freely available to non-geeks via an intuitive application manager. It's similar to the way the Nokia 770, featured in our November issue, managed to leverage a community of programmers to ensure exciting feature additions long after most similarly aged devices had become obsolete.
So not only will Neo1973 users have their choice of GSM carriers, they will also be able to run exactly the types of applications they want. Only need Internet-based apps like a web browser, RSS reader and email? No problem. Rather turn your phone into a portable media machine, complete with an eBook reader and video player? Just grab the apps you need, all for free. It's an exciting concept for the mobile market, one which has historically valued locked-down control over an easy user experience. Look for that to start changing when the Neo1973 becomes available next month. —John Mahoney
We here at PopSci.com cordially invite you to attend the grand opening of our brand-new home in Second Life—the PopSci Future Lounge! Our virtual digs will be the place to come hang out with PopSci editors, attend events and concerts, pick up some free schwag or take a ride in our futuristic Concepts and Prototypes vehicles before they exist in the real world.
Join us tonight starting at 6:30 p.m. PST (9:30 p.m. on the East Coast) for opening remarks and a ribbon-cutting by editor in chief Mark Jannot (PS Mandelbrot in-world), and stay to check out live sets from PopSci podcaster Jonathan Coulton as well as Second Life musicians Nance Brody and DJ Nexeus Fatale. Or swing on up to our green-roof dancefloor/garden. Or pick up a shiny new Nokia 770 Internet Tablet for your avatar to chat with. Or kick back and see the video on our massive solar-powered flat screen. Or fly around on a kick-ass rocket-powered PopSci Slegeway (we're giving one free to the first 100 attendees. I've already logged some serious flight time, and they're a blast). Seriously, PopSci knows how to virtually throw down.
So come on over to our new home tonight (SL link here, be sure to IM Baccara Millionsofus in-world to get on the guest list)—we're the place with the giant Skystream windmills on the roof; you can't miss it. We've warned the neighbors over at Wired that it could be a rager (possibility of Wired vs. PopSci dance competition: high). And if this whole Second Life thing still doesn't make much sense, why not have a look at our in-depth primer from the September issue and give it a try? See ya there!—John Mahoney/Ricky Romeo
Make the open-source Nokia 770 Internet tablet do anything
By Joe Brown and John MahoneyPosted 11.13.2006 at 2:00 am 1 Comment
Imagine a gadget that fits in your back pocket and lets you surf the Web anywhere, write documents, make VoIP calls, watch movies, and listen to your entire music library. That´s not exactly what Nokia had in mind when it released the 770 ($360; nokia.com), a PDA-size Internet tablet with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. But because the device has an open-source operating system, anyone can build new programs for it, endowing it with nearly endless functions (we´ve nicknamed it the HackBerry).