updated 12:55 pm EDT, Mon April 6, 2009
FreeRunner project dies
The Linux-based FreeRunner phone is no more, according to OpenMoko's executive director. Sean Moss-Pulz made the announcement at this week's OpenExpo in Switzerland, saying that focus will be redirected towards a non-smartphone device, being developed under the codename Plan B. Simultaneously affected are half of the company's workers, whose are losing their jobs so that OpenMoko can survive as a company.
The aim of the FreeRunner was to produce a completely open-source device, which would allow any carrier or software developer to change functionality without paying fees or negotiating licensing. The project is said to have encountered constant delays however, as well as problems with manufacturing, low publicity and an interface that was more conducive to developer use than by the public.
It is unknown if Plan B is a reference to the company's previously-announced Android phone, said to mirror many of the features of the FreeRunner. Google's Android platform may ultimately be responsible for the demise of the FreeRunner, combining open-source principles with better financial backing and a more practical interface. The platform also has a successful product already on sale, in the form of the T-Mobile G1.