Friday, September 07, 2007

Office2.0: Ismael Announces oPhone - an Open Source Device Competition

The final session of Office 2.0 was a VC panel discussion followed by closing remarks by Ismael Ghalimi - the organizer of Office2.0. Ismael had a hard time dealing with Apple this year even though he was doing them a huge favor by gifting everyone (except media) a free iPhone. But Apple made it really hard for him e.g., requiring individual orders (no more than 10 at a time).

The result: a competition to create a new device in a form factor slightly larger than iPhone with open source software and hardware. The participants can submit their plans for this device and the best entry will have the first order of 1,000 devices from Office2.0 - in addition to all the publicity, visibility and glamor that would come with such an honor.

As Ismael put it, its a stretch goal and it may be too hard but he is going to give it a try. And I personally think that with the caliber of the Office2.0 organizers and attendees - it has as good a chance of succeeding of coming to fruition as any angel/VC funded ideas. So may be the next hot device is going to be an oPhone and not a gPhone!

In all, it was a very nice conference and I am glad I attended. Kudos to Ismael and his team!

Update: Ismael has posted details of his oPhone - officially called "Redux Model 1" on his blog. Here is an excerpt:

The device we want to design and build, code-named Redux Model 1, is best described as a Mini Tablet. At a conceptual level, it would be similar to an over-sized iPod Touch, with no native applications at the exception of the web browser. It would be slightly thicker than an iPhone by one or two millimeters, and would be an inch smaller than a standard DVD case diagonally.

The concept for the device is minimalist (hence the name). It would sport a large multi-touch screen (no keyboard), have no more than two buttons (On/Off and Home), and provide a Mini-USB port, an SD Card slot, and a 3.5 mm mini stereo audio jack. It would support WiFi (802.11 a/b/g) and Bluetooth 2.0. It would not support any cellular network directly, but could connect to one over Bluetooth. Also, it would not have a camera nor any built-in GPS. As such, it would be a companion to a mobile phone, much like Palm’s Foleo (R.I.P.) was supposed to be. And because it would be so simple, yet larger than a phone, it should be relatively easy to design and build. It’s not a leading edge device in any shape or form, it’s just one based on a form factor that nobody really tried before, and as such it will succeed or fail not because of engineering constraint, but because of usability factors, which is exactly the field of experimentation that we have an interest in.

This is surely going to be very interesting.

1 comment:

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