Michael Lauer on Open Moko and the Neophone
Michael 'Mickey' Lauer, platform architect of OpenMoko, is talking to Robert Schuster about the ideas behind the project, new approaches in the Neo Freerunner phone's software and hardware design and about OpenMoko being an open source role model in Taiwan.
Robert: Mickey, what is OpenMoko?
Mickey: In a nutshell OpenMoko is the first real open source mobile communications platform. It is as simple as that. So what does that mean? It is a communication of open software and open hardware. Open software means we have a full mobile communication stack beginning from bootloader, over sysinit. We have a GSM phone server. We have applications.This is one crucial part, everyone can tinker with that, can change parts with that or everything, if he or she wants. But that is not everything. The other side is Open Hardware. Even if you have a full stack, where is the hardware, where you can actually flash that stack and run it. Most manufacturers just give out closed hardware. That means you can at maximum install a Java applet or something like that. But that is it. On OpenMoko you can install everything you want. It is open. We actually encourage to replace our software stack if you want to. This is experimentation at its best. We are trying to give power to the developer people.
Robert: What are the benefits for the user with this approach?
Mikey: Well, for the user, typically if you want to have newer software, you need to buy a new phone. Usually you can't update a phone and expect to have additional features. But with the Neophone it is completely different. You can install additional packages, you can install complete new operating systems, if you want that. So, the idea is, that ones we give power to the developers, they come up with really exciting applications. They can do nowhere else. Then typical users start to say: “Oh, this is a nice application. I want to have that device, because it does not run anywhere else.” So, this is how we think, we can sell a lot of devices eventually, even to end users.
Robert: What are your plans for the future? Do you want to have the OpenMoko software on more telephones, on more mobile phones or just your devices?
Mickey: Actually, OpenMoko as a software is kind of designed in a generic way. We would really love to have OpenMoko running on – say the EZX devices of Motorola, say the HTC devices, where some guys came up with a Linux port. I think it is really good for the platform if it spreads out well. This is really good for us that people know, OpenMoko runs on a lot of platforms. However, at the end of the day OpenMoko as a company wants to sell devices. So, of course OpenMoko is optimized to run on a Neo platform." (http://www.perspektive89.com/2008/openmoko_a_nutshell_platform_architect_mickey_about_new_approaches_neophone_design_and_om_open_source_rolemodel)
See: Open Moko
Links: - Michael 'Mickey' Lauer http://www.vanille-media.de , Wiki profile http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/User:Mickey - Robert Schuster http://www.fsfe.org/en/fellows/robertschuster/weblog - OpenMoko www.openmoko.com - OpenMoko Wiki http://wiki.openmoko.org - OpenMoko Blogs http://planet.openmoko.org