Linux smartphone due soon

One of the world’s largest computer and consumer electronics manufacturers will ship a completely open, Linux-based, GPS-equipped, quad-band GSM/GPRS phone direct, worldwide, for $350 or less, in Q1, 2007. First International Computing’s (FIC’s) “Neo1973” or FIC-GTA001, is the first phone based on the open-source “OpenMoKo” platform.

Sean Moss-Pultz, an FIC product development manager, introduced the Neo1973 — and OpenMoKo — as the “Mystery Guest” at the inaugural “Open Source in Mobile” conference today in Amsterdam.

OpenMoKo consists exclusively of open-source software, the Neo1973 will ship with a limited feature set, including a dialer (image at left), unified SyncML-enabled email/text messaging client, phonebook, (image at right), and media player, according to Moss-Pultz. However, many additional open source applications will be available through “feeds,” including “certified” ones from FIC, as well as those from commercial and community sources, he adds.

The Neo1973 will also ship with an “apt-get-like” software manager (pictured at right) that makes it trivial to add, remove, and update applications packaged in the OpenEmbedded package format, including “literally thousands of existing open source applications from the OpenZaurus, Familiar Linux, and Angstrom projects,” according to Michael Lauer, founder of OpenEmbedded and an early OpenMoko developer.

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