OpenMoko: Ten Years After

Michael Lauer, member of the core team at OpenMoko, a project that sought to create a family of open source mobile phones — which included the hardware specs and the Linux-based OS — has shared the inside story of what the project wanted to do and why it failed. From his blog post: For the 10th anniversary since the legendary OpenMoko announcement at the “Open Source in Mobile” (7th of November 2006 in Amsterdam), I’ve been meaning to write an anthology or — as Paul Fertser suggested on #openmoko-cdevel — an obituary. I’ve been thinking about objectively describing the motivation, the momentum, how it all began and — sadly — ended. I did even plan to include interviews with Sean, Harald, Werner, and some of the other veterans. But as with oh so many projects of (too) wide scope this would probably never be completed. As November 2016 passed without any progress, I decided to do something different instead. Something way more limited in scope, but something I can actually finish. My subjective view of the project, my participation, and what I think is left behind: My story, as OpenMoko employee #2. On top of that you will see a bunch of previously unreleased photos (bear with me, I’m not a good photographer and the camera sucked as well). [….] Right now my main occupation is writing software for Apple’s platforms — and while it’s nice to work on apps using a massive set of luxury frameworks and APIs, you’re locked and sandboxed within the software layers Apple allows you. I’d love to be able to work on an open source Linux-based middleware again. However, the sad truth is that it looks like there is no business case anymore for a truly open platform based on custom-designed hardware, since people refuse to spend extra money for tweakability, freedom, and security. Despite us living in times where privacy is massively endangered.


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