OpenMoko struggling with open-phone project

A 3G version of the open-source OpenMoko FreeRunner smartphone does not appear to be on the horizon as staff cuts take hold.

A 3G version of the FreeRunner is probably needed to get momentum behind OpenMoko, but could be far away. OpenMoko

OpenMoko's work to develop an open-source smartphone is on the rocks.

Over the weekend, the company's executive director, Sean Moss-Pulz, said that staff cuts would be implemented, and Ars Technica spotted a mailing list post from OpenMoko's vice president of marketing, Steve Mosher, confirming that the successor to the FreeRunner is delayed, and might even have to be shelved.

OpenMoko's FreeRunner uses open-source software from top to bottom. It has received a bit of buzz, but only about 10,000 units have been sold, and the company has had quality issues with the handset.

The problem at the moment, according to Ars Technica, is that the FreeRunner doesn't support 3G networking, an almost essential feature for any modern smartphone. And because a 3G version would have to use proprietary drivers, it's not clear whether OpenMoko will be able to deliver such a handset.

But the real problem may be that there is not all that much demand for an open-source smartphone, with Google's Android having stolen much of that thunder.

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