OpenMoko FreeRunner Discontinued Along with Massive Staff Reduction

ImageSpeaking at the OpenExpo in Bern, Switzerland, OpenMoko Executive Director Sean Moss-Pulz has announced that the FreeRunner open source Linux smart device would be discontinued to focus on development of a new non-smartphone device only known currently as “Plan B”.

Staff has also been reduced considerably by half, with the reductions being made to remain solvent while the company continues to focus on its next line of products.

The OpenMoko FreeRunner was an ambitious device with many goals. It was meant to be the first completely open-source hardware and software device that would allow developers complete freedom in software development which would allow for new applications and services.

The execution of the FreeRunner concept was fraught with many issues, chief among them was the constant stream of delays leading to poor visibility compared to other Linux-based devices, hardware/manufacturing issues, and the general lack of usability for consumers, being primarily targeted to developers.

The company will continue to support development of new applications with a reduced workforce while the director hopes for support from the wider community as well as a return to mobile phone design and manufacturing at some point in the future.

Humberto Saabedra is the Editor-in-Chief of AnimeNews.bizPhoneNews.com and an occasional columnist for Ani.me. He can also be found musing on things at @AnimeNewsdotbiz

6 responses to “OpenMoko FreeRunner Discontinued Along with Massive Staff Reduction”

  1. Christopher Price

    Open. Mobile. Free. Mismanaged. Dead.

  2. OpenMoko FreeRunner Gets Canned | mowbee.com

    […] [BernerZeitung via PhoneNews] […]

  3. Chris Nielsen

    we had a great private label deal for them, they told us to go away, so I now am just laughing.

  4. Openmoko Phones Discontinued - Seameat’s Nerd Culture Blog

    […] But it’s discontinued. […]

  5. Ben in Seattle

    So, when is phonenews.com going to put a note on this article that it’s been retracted? Even Slashdot eventually got the story right:

    http://mobile.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/04/09/220244

    –Ben in Seattle

  6. Christopher Price

    Ben, we see it as a company making the best of a bad situation. Any company developing a new product doesn’t want to say that their old product is dead. See OQO. They backtracked from the “OQO 2+ is dead” to “OQO 2+ is in some state other than coming soon.”

    Nobody said that OpenMoko’s Plan B wasn’t phone-related. To be candid… we suspect OpenMoko has a warehouse full of FreeRunners that nobody is buying. They’re overpriced, lack 3G, and Android dev kits are much more powerful.

    But, it’s even harder to sell off remaining FreeRuners if the product is officially dead. So, it’s now not dead. But, every indication is that it will be dead soon.

    We’re not here to sugar coat. FreeRuner was a nice idea, and I think OpenMoko can make plenty of money doing ODM work for a lot of Chinese and second-tier phone makers. Who knows? Their Plan B could be to give Sony Ericsson and others the leg up on Android development that they so badly need.

    But, to say we got the story wrong, is not correct. We got it right, OpenMoko is simply trying to rewrite history. And we don’t consider that very newsworthy.

Leave a Reply