OpenMoko, the Linux smartphone developer, announced the Neo FreeRunner, a mass-market version of the Neo 1973 open-source phone.
Neo FreeRunner, based on the same free and open source principles as the Neo 1973, will be previewed at the press-only Lunch at Piero’s technology showcase event during CES 2008.
Maintaining the overall look and feel of the developers’ Neo 1973, the Neo FreeRunner features hardware improvements such as 2D/3D graphics and a faster 500MHz processor that boosts performance to enable video and audio processing, as well as a new generation of mobile applications emerging from the open source community. Designed for worldwide use, FreeRunner will come in two versions: a 850MHz tri- band and a 900Mhz tri-band. Neo FreeRunner will also integrate WiFi (802.11 b/g) for online access anywhere, and will include motion sensors that will cue functions based on detected user activity.
The original Neo 1973 sold out within three days of its introduction in July 2007, giving open source developers and hackers a hardware and software platform to build a completely new mobile device for both vertical markets and consumers. Neo FreeRunner builds on and expands that success.
“FreeRunner ‘s a significantly improved device from the Neo 1973. Our developers gave us great feedback as they explored the first version of the device,” said Steven Mosher, VP marketing, Openmoko. “We added WiFi, motion sensors, faster processing, and improved graphics, creating a compelling mass market device for open source development. The open source community was key in achieving that goal. Without them this remix of the Neo would not have been possible”
Developers who bought the Neo 1973 have been eagerly awaiting announcement of the latest Neo sequel.
To foster FreeRunner development for mainstream Java applications and Java developers, OpenMoko partnered with Jalimo, the open source project driven by the German software development company Tarent GmbH.
Hanno Wendt, Partner Manager and spokesman for Jalimo: ” the Neo 1973 was a great launch vehicle for us. We got the device and had our Java Virtual Machine ( JVM) running in no time. We are confident our bring up on FreeRunner will go just as smoothly.”
The FreeRunner will ship later this spring – first to developers and then to end users as software for the new hardware features becomes available. There is no pricing announced.
Two months ago, thirty-four companies formed the Open Handset Alliance to develop technologies that will lower the cost of developing and distributing mobile devices and services. The Android platform is the first step in this direction – an an operating system, middleware, user-friendly interface and applications. Google also announced the Android Developer Challenge, which will provide $10 million to developers who build mobile applications for Android. Consumers should expect the first phones based on Android to be available in the second half of 2008.