Forget iPhone, hail OpenMoko, the true revolution
This may seem like a bold statement. Apple's just released iPhone is not only very attractive as we would expect from an Apple product, but includes some impressive features and specifications. It's probably unrealistic to claim that anything currently available on the market competes with this offering. However, is it really a revolution in mobile communication devices? Maybe not if there still is something that can overshadow it, and do it very soon.
It is something that follows a paradigm painfully different from the one of Apple, pretty much completely opposite of it actually. It is a phone which rivals Apple's iPhone as a technological concept and is yet based on completely open technologies, fully extensible by anyone and fully under control of its user. Enter OpenMoko, an attractive phone which may not currently be much of a competitor in terms of specifications alone, but beats Apple hands down on openness and therefore the disruptive potential. It is based on open hardware specifications and uses a Free Software operating system platform known as GNU/Linux which means that all the hardware and software code is open to developers, engineers and designers to build on and potentially create things even far more exciting than the current Apple iPhone.
The current situation in the mobile phone market isn't very flattering if you care about standardization and openness. Basically every manufacturer has their own proprietary platform. If you want to extend your mobile phone with new features and software you are generally dependable solely on the phone manufacturer itself. The vision behind OpenMoko describes a completely different world. It is a world where there is a common standard platform for mobile phones which is open and therefore friendly to developers. It is a world where once you buy your phone you can install or remove software from it as you wish, customizing the phone and its capabilities in much the similar manner you can customize your PC. It is a world which is, thanks to the visionaries and enthusiasts behind the OpenMoko project, near.
This is the real mobile communications revolution we should be expecting. It is not merely about creating a technologically superior mobile phone that looks good. It is about creating an open common environment which welcomes innovators of all kinds to converge and create technological superiority not dependable on one vendor. It is the mirror of the Free Software ecosystem that produced things like GNU/Linux, Mozilla Firefox, Apache, PHP, Drupal and other impressive software technologies. It is the concept which we may, in the trendy "web 2.0" jargon, rightfully call "Mobile 2.0"—reinventing the mobile communications industry.
This said, I would rather wait for OpenMoko to become available for purchase than shell out high bucks for iPhone. Just like with any Apple product, it is like an awesome looking golden cage. I always preferred freedom to control my own digital devices than to be mostly dependent on one vendor for everything.
I refer you to this presentation PDF for an attractive summary of the revolutionary OpenMoko concept. You can see a feature comparison here. In the true open fashion, you can talk about and ask questions about OpenMoko in an #openmoko IRC channel at irc.freenode.net.
UPDATE: Libervis Network has launched a new web site on open mobile devices: MobiLiberty.com.