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Startup Promises First Linux Smartphone Based On Open Standards

OpenMoko, a Taiwanese startup that develops mobile hardware and software, next month plans to start selling what it claims to be the first Linux smartphone based completely on open standards.

OpenMoko first unveiled its open-source mobile communications platform and the Neo1973 smartphone in partnership with First International Computer, a manufacturer of motherboards and notebook, PC, and PDA peripherals, in November. All parts of the platform are open sourced, including the user interface layer. "In the Linux world, nobody has created an integrated software stack for mobile phones, but that's what we did," says Sean Moss-Pultz, an FIC product development manager.

Access, a Japanese mobile software company that acquired PalmSource—the maker of the Palm OS—also is planning to introduce its commercial-grade Linux OS for smartphones in the first half of this year. But parts of it, including the user interface, are proprietary and closed to developers, says Moss-Pultz.

Mobile Linux is a popular mobile platform around the world because it offers lower development costs to smartphone makers and provides a richer mobile ecosystem of devices and applications. But there isn't a standard mobile Linux operating system today and the number of applications available on Linux phones is limited. OpenMoko says its platform comes with 3,000 out-of-the-box apps. The company also offers common storage models and libraries for developers so they can create a wide range of mobile apps.

Neo1973 is being showcased at an exclusive press event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

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