OpenMoko Smartphone: Did They Have a Time Machine, or What?

Illustration for article titled OpenMoko Smartphone: Did They Have a Time Machine, or What?

When we first saw this Linux-based OpenMoko FIC Neo1973 smartphone last November, we were wondering if it would capture the imagination of the open-source community. Now, after Apple's iPhone (pictured at right next to the Neo1973) has been unveiled, we're looking at this smartphone in a different context.

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Not only does it have similar design, its user interface has a lot of similarities as well. Good thing this concept wasn't introduced after the iPhone, or there'd be some splainin' to do. Take a look at its user interface pics and spec list for even more startling similarities:

Illustration for article titled OpenMoko Smartphone: Did They Have a Time Machine, or What?
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Illustration for article titled OpenMoko Smartphone: Did They Have a Time Machine, or What?
Illustration for article titled OpenMoko Smartphone: Did They Have a Time Machine, or What?
Illustration for article titled OpenMoko Smartphone: Did They Have a Time Machine, or What?

Preliminary Specification
Note: These are _not_ final. But since we've had so many questions on our mailing lists,
it's probably best to post them in one place:
Hardware
• 120.7 x 62 x 18.5 (mm)
• 2.8" VGA (480x640) TFT Screen
• Samsung s3c2410 SoC
• Global Locate AGPS chip
• Ti GPRS (2.5G not EDGE)
• Unpowered USB 1.1
• Touchscreen
• micro-sd slot
• 2.5mm audio jack
• 2 buttons
• 1200 mAh battery (charged over USB)
• 128 MB SDRAM
• 64 MB NAND Flash
Software
• Dialer
• Contacts
• Application Manager
• Calendar
• More...

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Could Apple have borrowed an idea or two from this open-source design? Hmm.

Press Information [OpenMoko]

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DISCUSSION

thunderdome-old
Thunderdome

Throughout the cold-war(and beyond), the Soviets have been accused time and time again of ripping off Western aircraft designs(and I'm sure we're the culprits over there in Moscow).

There was the russian Tu-144 that seemed to borrow heavily from the Concorde(not exactly a western design, I know, but you get the idea).

There was the Mig-25 that seemed to borrow design queues from the F-15.

The Su-25/39 Frogfoot, even though it didn't look exactly the same as the A-10, shared similar design features in that they were both very ugly and blunt aircraft.

And I'm sure everyone has seen the Russian Boran(snowstorm) spacecraft that looks like the poor mans version of the space shuttle NASA has used for almost 2 decades.

All of these aircraft were designed for the same role(more or less) as the aircraft they're accussed of copying, and that role very frequently determines the shape and design of these aircraft.

My point to all this babble is that frquently function determines form. Windows has come to resemble Mac OS(because it's a good GUI). Apple finally went and released a multi-button mouse which resembles mice released years prior by other companies(because of it's obvious increase in function and useability). The Zune sorta looks like an ipod(cause it's appealing to the eye), and I personally think Volvo is ripping off BMW in some of their designs(also visually appealing). Now two phones of similar size and function happen to look very similar even though it seems that it's almost impossible that either side blatantly copied the other. So what?

I think we should all remember that WE are the ones that win when companies compete in this way. Now we have two phones, both very stylish in my opinion, to choose from. As long it's not so obviously a rip-off(think of the cheap chinese-made ipods all over ebay), then I say let it go.

Sorry, that was a BIT longwinded.