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A Really Open Smartphone?

Back in 2007, I was wondering if a mobile device that fits me will ever be built and saw the unveiling of the N810 as a step nearer to that. It was a really open, hackable mobile device, with a Mozilla-based browser, but it lacked phone capabilities, so even when I bought one a few months later, I still needed to carry a phone around with me in addition to this surely nice device.

What I really wanted after all, was a smartphone, albeit one that was truly open and hackable at least on the side of software, reasonably fast, with a Mozilla-based browser that shows the web as it should be and a touch screen in a handy size - oh, did I say it should be a phone at the same time? Would it ever exist? I trusted it would, I was just thinking ahead of the time.

The OpenMoko was a phone that sounded interesting, but it never came to a state where it would have few enough problems to make the mass-market. When Google came up with Linux-based Android, it sounded good, but the G1 and friends are nothing like an open, hackable device. It goes without saying the the iPhone isn't, even though it looks cool and seems to be pretty functional.

Meanwhile, having the N810, I grew quite fond of the nicely sized touch screen, but even more of the maemo distribution, and of many things like maemo-mapper, which is my trusted OpenStreetMap-based travel companion nowadays. And I closely am following the maemo community through blogs, etc.

So, it was no big surprise to me when Nokia unveiled the N900, powered by maemo 5 this week. I've read enough rumors about this "RX-51" or "Rover" prototype device, esp. in recent weeks but even vague comments before that.

And still, it's a bit overwhelming for an open source guy like me. This is actually one of the largest mobile phone producers worldwide shipping a smartphone (yes, a phone!) based on Linux, with a fully hackable software stack and, importantly of us, a Mozilla-based browser! Shipping, as in pushing it out as their top-of-the-line product for consumers! Not just a geek thing like the OpenMoko, a normal consumer device that at the same time speeds up the heartbeat of any open source geek!

This is a bold step for Nokia, and I really hope it will be successful - this could be an important point in getting open software out to consumers, possibly even as large an impact as Firefox on the desktop. Thanks to Nokia for taking this step. This week, I'm really proud to be a Nokia - and maemo - user.

I'm not sure if the N900 is fully the device that fits me in every regard, I fear the screen might come to be a bit small of the things I've grow accustomed to (maemo-mapper, browsing, showing my pictures to people, even doing some programming), and I also fear that the smaller keyboard compared to the N810 makes typing even harder, but in any case, the N900 is another large step to the device I want. I think the fact that it's less a niche product but a general consumer product (even as a high-end smartphone) is overall the more significant matter than if it fits my requirements perfectly. ;-)

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on August 28th, 2009 23:12 | Tags: maemo, Mozilla, N810, N900 | 2 comments | TrackBack

Comments

AuthorEntry

turu

quote
I seriously hope n900 going be sold as "open" in any meaning, aka "SIM FREE". Then I can finally get such a powerful smart phone with full freedom for usage.
2009-08-29 16:27

Fritz

quote
I am seriously excited about this. This is the first smartphone that I have really wanted to get to replace my ~2003 phone. Hope it's affordable on AT&T!
2009-08-30 07:52

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