Neo 1973: Open source phone, open source sexy

The iPhone. Ah the iPhone. Who of us stood in line, like a Star Wars fan boy, waiting to lay their eyes and hands on what seems to be the be-all, end-all salvation of the tech world?

Well, I for one didn't. Don't get me wrong, there were moments when I thought maybe, just maybe, I would. But then I took the time to research what the iPhone had to offer and realized it wasn't for me. You see, I have certain requirements for my hand held device that must be met:

  • Must offer plenty of apps
  • Must be reliable
  • Must be proven
  • Must get email
  • Must browse

Those are very simple requirements. The iPhone meets some of them but not all. The killer? Plenty of applications. My Palm-based Treo 680 meets this (and all the others). But now a new requirement is starting to pop up in my subconscious.

  • Must be open source.

Therein lies the Palm-based killer. Even though the next iteration of the Palm OS will be open source, it seems weekly the release date is pushed back a decade or so (that's a wee exaggeration.)

But now there's a new phone in town (or at least in the town called Developer Release) that promises me, nay swears to me, that it will meet and/or exceed all of my needs. That phone? The Neo 1973.

This phone is a bit odd looking. You can tell they are trying to somewhat emulate the iPhone. It's roundish, has a big screen, promises some beautiful graphics, but has a mid-level price point. I think this phone has some serious potential. But...

Like much of the world we call Linux, it could easily doom itself. How? Marketing. As you can see, the first release of this phone is developers only. On top of that, Open Moko is only marketing the phone to developers. Instead of letting the average Joe and Jane in on their little gem (creating an enormous viral buzz like Jobs did with the iPhone), they are quietly plodding (and plotting) away with their little toy. Because of this lack of buzz, the Neo (catchy, geeky, Matrix-y name) gets pumped up (or shot down) on Slashdot and other, more obscure, tech sites around the world. The only people excited? Linux developers and users. And quite possibly they'll react the same way they did to Loki Games (remember that gem of a company that ported a bunch of games to the Linux platform?)...

"You mean we have to PAY for it?"

Open Moko - I am telling you right now, if you want this phone to succeed (and you should because it looks to be quite promising), you need to spend the money to get the buzz out. Get people excited about this phone. Stop trying to rest on the phone's openness and make this phone SEXY for the consumer. Why? Because SEXY is the only thing that seems to sell these days. That's why Apple is so good. (It's certainly not their hardware, as I've had plenty of Apple hardware die before me.) They know how to make technology sexy to the masses.

I'm a bit different than the average Joe or Jane. Open source is appealing to me. The very fact that the phone is going to be open, makes me think I will give it a try. But I would like to see this phone make it to a much larger audience. So please, Open Moko, "sexy-up" the Neo ASAP. Make it "iPhone worthy". Make the masses feel this is what they HAVE to have.


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website


The phone doesn't really work yet.


If this thing is able to play MP3s as ring tones, then that would be the best marketing point. People LOVE their ring tones. Just transfer a song from your computer to your phone, and simply set it as your ring tone, that would sell the phone to the masses. It being open source, there are your developer and hacker markets. This thing should be an easy sell if they can get it on the right cell networks and if it functions properly.


I think that Linux and the Open Source community have really missed out on some of the easiest marketing there can be: "Free" software. I know that is what initially caught my interest in the Open Source market. Eventually the sticker shock wore off and I started seeing the upsides of Open Source, besides the price. The phone however, would be a needed edition to the Open Source community. It would give them entry into a market that isn't as open to it as some of the others markets (Appliances, Server Market, Desktop Market, etc). I still think people see Open Source as insecure software because everyone can see the code, instead of being more secure because everyone can see the code.


and as soon as wifi is available I am gonna buy the Neo Advanced.


but don't you think the fact that everyone can see the code makes it more reliable? think about it - you have all developers able to fix problems and close holes easily and quickly. vs. the closed source model where fixes have to go through red tape and a much smaller amount of programmers working to fix a problem.

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