I wasn't happy to post about the death of the GTA-03 last month. It was hoped to be the hardware vehicle that would finally signal a consumer-ready combination of soft and hardware from the Openmoko team - a group whose work inspired me from the first time I read about them. I saw photos of the Neo1973 (below) in 2006 and eagerly awaited release, for a while. Learning of the company's recent downsize and redirection was a bit saddening, but not a surprise.
Openmoko, while presenting some promising concepts and demonstration videos, was plagued with perpetually pushed release windows, the encroaching obsolescence of each new device they embraced, and in a way, the enormous shadow cast by Apple. More specifically, the break-neck pace dictated by Jobs & Co's breathtaking strides in the cell phone market. Keeping up with the constantly changing standards put Openmoko off balance, and our current economic situation seemed to have finally tipped them over.
Fortunately, the company and the idea live on. Sean Moss-Pultz, CEO of Openmoko, reached out to everyone on the Openmoko mailing list on June 2nd; addressing the layoffs of May 25th and the future of the Openmoko software and the Freerunner (GTA-02):
"We've always said that the talent and creativity of those outside the
company is superior to that inside the company. We have stuck to these
principles. We've have opened up more than any other phone, from any
other company, in the history of this industry. Every time we chose
openness over internal control, we have been rewarded."
You can read the message in its entirety here. The nut of it is that the FreeRunner A7, along with the use of the Openmoko name, has been turned over to the community with Openmoko as a sponsor. It turns out that the little company that could has their collective eyes set on "an altogether different type of device." Will it run Openmoko? (Probably.) Maemo? Android? is it a MID? I don't have the answers to any of these questions, but I hope this means the company will rise from the ashes in a big way.