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Motorola A768 Phone Loaded With Open Source 200

Posted by timothy
from the fits-in-one-hand dept.
Supp0rtLinux writes "According to this article over at Linux Devices and noted on here at NewsForge.com, Motorola has released a newer version of its A76x line of cellular phones. This newest release, the A768, boasts of open source softwares from Monta Vista Linux, Trolltech, and Sleepycat. The only downside is that it appears to only be available in China right now. And the older A760 released last August is still only available in Europe and Asia. Why are we in the U.S. always the last to get new cellular toys? The good news, though, is that with a Linux base and an integrated PDA and MS Office file compatibility, at least syncing this to either a Linux system or a Windows one should be fairly seamless. (A760 Review)"
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Motorola A768 Phone Loaded With Open Source

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  • US cell phones (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:22PM (#8252409)
    Why are we in the U.S. always the last to get new cellular toys?

    Because you have several competing, incompatible cellular networks, when the rest of the world seems to have enough sense to agree on GSM. GSM is an easier, and denser market to conquer. The US market comes second, when something GSM is proven to work well commercially.
    • Re:US cell phones (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Jotaigna (749859)
      what about third world countries? only rich people here have access to the latest technology, because imported cellphones come so overpriced noone else can afford them. Still on the other hand in Chile are more mobile phones around than regular lines, despite the fact we use TDMA for some companies and CDMA for others.
    • Legalities (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Short Circuit (52384) <mikemol@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:34PM (#8252560) Homepage Journal
      Not just that, but a litigation-heavy court system and a class-action popular mindset make us the last place anyone wants to try something new.
    • Re:US cell phones (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DAldredge (2353)
      And because our POTS system doesn't charge per minute and doesn't suck as much as it does in most other countries.
      • Re:US cell phones (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Actually, many European countries have a FAR more modern POTS system than the US. Technically, that is. So, don't get me started on how persons are charged in the US for RECEIVING phone calls.
        • Um, we're not charged for receiving calls. On cell phones, yes, but not on POTS, which was the topic at hand.
          • Um, we're not charged for receiving calls. On cell phones, yes, but not on POTS, which was the topic at hand.

            How much are you charged for receiving calls?

            I'm from the UK, and didn't really know this happened - I don't think it does here. Does it only happen if someone from a different network calls you?
            • Air time is air time. Up to the cell phone owner to pay. Someone calling you long distance - they would pay the LD charge, but you still pay for the air time.

              There are, of course, unlimited plans. And damm near every plan is free nights and weekends.

              • Re:How much? (Score:3, Insightful)

                by twaltari (217837)
                You make it sound as if it was a natural and logical billing principle; The truth is, in US the cell phone numbers weren't allocated under a separate area code (which is the standard in many countries). A basic principle of billing phone calls says the caller should always know roughly how much the call will cost him. In US the caller cannot see from the number whether it is a cell phone or wired one. Thus the telco charges cell phone owners even when receiving calls (the same priciple rest of the world use
                • Calling a cellphone doesnt cost the caller any money (unless they happen to be on a cell too). The callers cost is Zero. Mr. Owner has the option of not answering. This is similar to how 1-800/888/ (toll free anywhere) works. The cell phone owner (and the toll free owner) has a special service. It is convienent for both them and who ever calls, however someone has to pay for that convience, in both cases its the callee, not the caller.

                  Painfully, you dont have that option to not answer with text messages, e

                • You haven't seen an AT&T, T-Mobile, Cingular, (all three GSM) or Nextel phone, have you? They all take SIM cards.

                  Also, I've found that SMS is actually quite well supported, but it's not cheap either way, except on AT&T, where it's free to recieve. Nextel actually forces you to recieve the message, and it's (AFAIK) 15 cents per RECIEVED message, and disabling SMS prevents voicemail alerts from working.
        • We are not charged for getting calls on our Plain Old Telephone System (POTS). You are thinking of how our Cell Networks work. Another reason why GSM and other cell nets are more prevalent in developing countires is there is less wire than can be stolen.
        • You do know that folks calling euro cell numbers pay more, right?

          Kind of embarrassing when you're short 20 florins at Schiphol cuz your local contact gave you his cell..
    • also note... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by segment (695309) <sil@politri x . org> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:39PM (#8252614) Homepage Journal
      Motorola claims to be the number one manufacturer of handsets in China, where IDC estimates there are 252.3 million current mobile telephone subscribers. By 2007, the Chinese mobile phone market is forecast to reach 371.4 million subscribers.

      In other words... China has the United States' (or soon will have) population already as a customer in China. Do the math... Do I release it in the US and sell about 50-100 million (wishfully thinking), or do I do with a solid 100+ million Gee willikers what would you do...

      Opinionater bastard [slashdot.org]

      • Right, there are a *lot* of Chinese, therefore the potential Chinese market is huge. Make sure you get in early, start on top and stay on top. There are almost as many cell phone subscribers in China as there are Americans in total. And the market in China is nowhere near saturation. Combine that with the same frequencies in use in China as in Europe, wow, that makes a *HUGE* potenial market. When it comes to economies of scale the Chinese will win.
    • Re:US cell phones (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bluGill (862)

      Oh, please, what difference does it make what protocol is used? Once you have the silicon designed it is just a "library" you plug into. Sure if you are a small cell phone designer you might not bother to create silicon for some of the other US standards, but that is no excuse for not at least designing a US GSM version. (Not when you already have 900Mhz (or was it 800?)and 1800Mhz phone to design.

      Or haven't hardware engineers learned the value of well designed interfaces like us software people have

      • Re:US cell phones (Score:3, Informative)

        by dslbrian (318993)

        Once you have the silicon designed it is just a "library" you plug into...

        ...GSM will not be the only standard for long, 3g systems are coming out, and they are closer to the US systems than GSM. Nobody in their right mind knowing that would design a cell phone that they couldn't move to a different protocol.

        Actually as someone who designed the Motorola front-end chip I can tell you that the same front-end IC used should work in the US for GSM. The problem isn't the technology, I guessing its the car

      • It does make a difference. I want my phone to function where ever I travel. So far my tri-band GSM covers Europe and Asia completyly but only small areas within USA. As far as I know, the next time I come visit US, opening a cheap American cell phone service just for a few weeks isn't possible either (typically half a year minimum. Here in Finland you can get a used cell phone equipment for $15 or less, opening a service is free, it's ready to use the next day, can be terminated any time and being a touris
        • Your tri band cell phone covers only small parts of the US, but it covers the parts you want to visit. Seriously, the US is a big place, but odds are you are not going far from the big cities and freeways, and those areas have good GSM coverage.

          And you can buy pay as you go service in the US, with not need for a 6 month contract. However billing in general is different in the US, so they don't make sense for most residents.

          I live in the US, and my cell phone is a tri-band GSM phone. I nearly always h

    • We also have a more litigous society and infrastructure. If manufacturers can iron out defects elsewhere we may see the technology reach our shores eventually.
    • Re:US cell phones (Score:1, Interesting)

      by skitz0 (89196)
      Its acctualy a good thing we get them last. For the most part cellphones are bug ridden POS's when they first hit the market and since most cell phone producers make it hard to flash the firmware in the US (compared to the rest of the world where you can walk into a service center and have it done!) it really is a good thing. Ive worked in the cellular telecom industry for many years and usually picked up the latest and greatest as soon as it hit the employee rec site, even then they sometimes had problems.
    • Why are we in the U.S. always the last to get new cellular toys?

      Because you have several competing, incompatible cellular networks, when the rest of the world seems to have enough sense to agree on GSM. GSM is an easier, and denser market to conquer.

      I used to work for a telecom company based in the US that offered cellular services outside of the US. I has nothing to do with the nonsense all the America bashers like to spout off about.

      Ironically, it's because the US has such a good wired phone networ
  • OMG (Score:5, Funny)

    by Supp0rtLinux (594509) <Supp0rtLinux@yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:22PM (#8252415)
    300+ submissions and one was finally accepted. Time to tell the wife and kiddies... :) I've finally made it to the ranks for geekdom. Now, if only someone would sell me their extremely low /. number... something under 5000 perhaps?
    • Re:OMG (Score:2, Funny)

      by dasmegabyte (267018)
      I'm thinking about selling my Slashdot account on ebay. I'm a level 56 Star Wars nerd / level 52 Apple zealot.
      • Good for combat, but your healing is going to need some work with that combination. Probably need to team up with someone who can tank well for protracted dungeon exploration.

        Good lord, I think I pulled a nerd muscle with that joke.
        • No... pulling a nerd muscle would be suggesting a level combination for the team-up person.

          Say... a Level 70 Moderator/Level 41 USENET Flame Warrior, for instance.

    • Re:OMG (Score:5, Funny)

      by CompressedAir (682597) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:34PM (#8252558)
      It seems the trick was to pack in as many links as possible.
    • Re:OMG (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      300+ submissions??? Damn, that's persistance.
      Was there a wife and kiddies before the first submission? Perhaps you could post a timeline.
    • by MS (18681)
      "for under 5000" ?!?

      I'm selling mine for 4999,- Euro - is that fair? The nick is also not bad: "MS" (those are my initials btw. - nothing Microsoft related!)

      :-)

    • you are lame dood. my first submission was accepted (not counting submission number zero, which was not accepted, but only because someone subnitted the same few seconds earlier). i own you
    • 4-digit account with several successful stories posted to /. Serious bidders only please!
  • by Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:22PM (#8252421)
    The only downside is that it appear to only be available in China right now.

    Well I suppose you could learn Chinese, but paying for around-the-world roaming fees will probably screw you.
  • by IchBinDasWalross (720916) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:23PM (#8252429)
    We in the US are last to get this technology because we embrace it not as fully. We still have lots of landlines and service that isn't as crappy as the ones that I used in London. Europe seems to have less advanced systems, so they are more eager to make the jump away from their crappy POTS. We live in a land filled with mediocre service that people don't hate fullly enough.
  • by al701 (617447) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:23PM (#8252433)
    1) FCC - They have to approve every device and this takes time.
    2) Slow adoption rate. The USA isn't big on advanced cells. Not like Europe or Asia.
    3) Usually the better phones are GSM. Only recently has GSM become a real option here in the states.

    Also: If this type of stuff interestes you, check out Smart Mobs [smartmobs.com] and the book, it is excellent.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The real stoppers are:
      • cell phone owners in the US are charged for receiving (!) calls
      • local calls in the US typically are not charged by the minute (here in Italy we pay about 75 cents per hour), so getting a POTS line is cheap
      • competing standards a no GSM until a few years ago made the market uninteresting to most cellular-companies (you mentioned this in point 3)
      • I never really saw point one as a big deal, but surely interesting. I have T-Mo and well with 3000minutes/mo, I don't really even think about it. I want to be in touch, I pay for the privledge of others being able to contact me.

        The second point, yep have heard that, should have remembered it. It's the whole technology leapfrog effect. Good point though. I have actually heard that POTS is super flaky overseas and cell service is better. In America, that certainly isn't the case. Even during power failures
        • I never really saw point one as a big deal, but surely interesting. I have T-Mo and well with 3000minutes/mo, I don't really even think about it. I want to be in touch, I pay for the privledge of others being able to contact me.

          The big selling point of smartfones though is their ability to do useful things over packet data. Packet data from basically every provider is still ridiculously overpriced. Why would an American need a smartfone/PDAphone if they didn't plan to use the packet data features?

          (dis
        • I have actually heard that POTS is super flaky overseas and cell service is better.

          Well, you know, 'overseas' is a pretty big place. In many parts of Europe (where GSM first took off) landline service is really good. In Germany mobile phones became a real standard accessoire shortly after the Deutsche Telekom finished the full digitalization of the network.

          Even during power failures, phones will sometimes stay up.
          Yes, phone networks usually have their own power supply. So as long as you don't have wire
    • The USA isn't big on advanced cells. Not like Europe or Asia.

      None of the advanced features US providers are dreaming about will happen until we see a whole lot more flat-rate action. Americans simply will not pay what Asians and Europeans are willing to for stuff like GPRS, SMS/MMS, etc. LTIC most European plans are still per-minute with per-message charges in SMS and per-KB data transfer charges. No all-you-can-eat plans.

      I can guarantee you that 'cellular data' will go nowhere until it's available f
    • My impression is that Americans aren't used to buying mobile phones themselves, even though it's easy with GSM. This impression comes from the fact that all the US bloggers whom I read always refer to "[AT&T/Nextel/other telco] doesn't offer [latest model] yet".
  • by Slowtreme (701746)
    Reading Word Docs on my cell phone. Combo devices... Meh
    • Pretty soon Verison's TXT messaging will be replaced with the new-and-improved DOC messaging. Not only can you now send messages to your friends about how bad Gigli the movie was, you can include a comparison table and charts!
    • The ability comes in handy more that you may think. If you're just using your handset to make calls, no you don't need anything like that. But viewers of various types is very handy when you want to carry data around with you. Bus schedules, directions, etc etc.
    • Combo devices... Meh

      Sorry, but you are wrong. Combo devices are the dog's bollocks.
  • Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nil5 (538942) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:24PM (#8252446) Homepage
    This is pretty much a continuation of a trend that began a few years ago. We see many embedded devices using open source, particularly linux. It makes sense for many reasons, but the bottom line is that open source is inexpensive (ie free?) and widely used, which makes development more efficient.

    The really interesting thing, as I see it, is the integration we will be able to get when many devices run linux. I would love to be able to integrate my cell phone with my pda with my computer with my wireless access point. the possibilities are endless when we converge on common standards.
    • But there is nothing about Linux that means it will use open standards. Nor is there any guaruntee that anyone else will implement those standards in other places. The Linux-based Zaurus is a good example. You still cannot sync the newer ROMs with a Linux desktop. The API and formats are open and available, but no one has done the work to put the two together yet. It's likely to happen eventually, yes, but just being based on Linux, just being "open" doesn't mean jack- and this illustrates this point.

      Nor
  • Would be interesting to see what they got under the hood ..
  • Not open however... (Score:5, Informative)

    by JohnGrahamCumming (684871) * <slashdot@jgc . o rg> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:25PM (#8252466) Homepage Journal
    Although this device might be using "Open Source" software the actual software in the device isn't open. No doubt they obtained commercial licenses from Sleepycat and others so that they could get around having to release their software. Which is a pity because it makes customizing the thing so much harder.

    John.
  • ...last in the US (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:26PM (#8252468)
    The US is generally last to get new cellular toys because of the lack of a single standard. By letting the market fight it out, the FCC - whilst promoting competition amongst vendors - kinda hashed things up for the consumers.

    They did it again with Digital TV too, mandating an arguably inferior standard that isn't used much elsewhere, so that the domestic TV manufacturers would be happy. Now, if they'd gone with DVB-T, prices everywhere around the World for DTV tuners would be lower. Ho hum. It seems the US Government doesn't get wireless. So the population can't, either :(
    • The US is generally last to get new cellular toys because of the lack of a single standard. By letting the market fight it out, the FCC - whilst promoting competition amongst vendors - kinda hashed things up for the consumers.

      OTOH our rates are much lower, so there is a benefit to competition. Keep in mind GSM was government mandated, and they just lucked out that it was as flexible as it was: government-selected standards rarely are.

      They did it again with Digital TV too, mandating an arguably inferior
    • > By letting the market fight it out, the FCC

      You can take these anti-free market arguments elsewhere, because here in Taiwan they "let the market fight it out" and very vigorously so. There are different standards: GSM and PHS. Many companies: Chunghua Telecom, Taiwan Cellular, FarEasTone, KGT Online, PHS, and a bunch of others. This has created a country with the highest per-capita wielding cell phones. We exceed Japan and Korea and others by a handful.

      It's more like regulation and big government
  • Marketability (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sheetrock (152993) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:26PM (#8252476) Homepage Journal
    Why are we in the U.S. always the last to get new cellular toys?

    There is a certain reliability factor we expect in U.S. equipment. Keep in mind that these fancy Linux phones are bleeding-edge and likely quite unstable compared to your standard PCS or analog phone. Additionally, with the amount of geography we've got to cover, the support for newer technologies just isn't there in our cell towers.

    Canada's in an even worse situation, technically speaking. Even though it's easier to deploy wireless than it used to be to get phone service out to rural areas, the towers still require service.

    • I guess it depends on where you live. Pretty much anywhere I need to go in Ontario [Bell Mobility covereage map [www.bell.ca]]with my dual mode phone is covered.
    • Re:Marketability (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Narcissus (310552) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:52PM (#8252769) Homepage
      Excuse me if I'm mistaken, but are you trying to say that GSM is "newer technology"??

      Australia has been using GSM for at least 8 or 9 years, it's not new technology. I don't mean to offend, but the lack of US support for GSM for so many years feels, to an outsider, as though it's more because it's supported so heavily elsewhere!

      Plus, regarding the geography you have to cover: Australia, again, is about 70% of the area of the main "chunk" of the United States, and yet they don't seem to have much problem. The way I see it, with the higher population density, it would actually be more economical for the US to provide these so called "newer technologies" than Australia, for instance...
      • The difference is that Americans are spread out all over that main "chunk" of land, where Australians are kinda crammed along the coastal regions, and it's not so populated out in the desert or the outback.

        Same with Canada, most of the population lives along the US border, not too many people to worry about way up in the tundra.

        Say hi to Yahoo Serious for me. Truly an Australian icon.
    • Re:Marketability (Score:5, Informative)

      by frostman (302143) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:41PM (#8253351) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, right.

      In San Francisco, a wealthy tech-savvy city, my Sprint PCS phone drops network randomly as I walk through the financial district. In Noe Valley I have four antennas on one side of the $tarbucks and zero on the other side of it.

      In Budapest, an up-and-coming (and much larger) yet by no means wealthy Central European city, the only time I ever lose connectivity above ground is for 20 minutes after midnight on New Year's.

      Face it, the US cellphone infrastructure is many, many years behind Europe's in terms of reliability and signal quality (and IMHO revenue concept).

      As for the reliability of the handsets themselves, you may have a point - or you may not, since your point contradicts US behavior in other tech markets (PDAs spring to mind).

  • Handys in Germany (Score:5, Interesting)

    by derphilipp (745164) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:27PM (#8252484) Homepage
    As I can speak for Europe (Germany), each kid (12 and up !) here needs the newest toy on the market.
    Handys are everywhere - but not mainly to call someone - especially Teenagers are sending hundrets of SMS per month - for 30-40 Euro-cents each !
    Photo-Handys and MMS are on their way, the market is growing and growing.

    Handys are a definitely a status symbol -
    You've got one ? - You're one of us.
    You've got that old-styled Nokia Handy from last Season ? You're such a dork !
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:31PM (#8252532)
      A a fellow German, let me tell you that the term "handy" means nothing to non-Germans. At least nothing cellphone-related. ;-)
      • A a fellow German, let me tell you that the term "handy" means nothing to non-Germans.
        No but it's very funny. Germans seem to hate speaking german so much they rather use english words even though they aren't real english words.
    • As I can speak for Europe

      Exactly when were you appointed official spokesperson for all of Europe?
    • In New Zealand the photo/colour/mms handsets are about all you can buy now.

      The largest cell company has made photo text messages, they call them pxt (pronounced picksst), free for the last few months and they will be untill the end of march, people have really taken it on board and all the people I txt every day have pxt capable phones.

      this isn't up and coming technology, its already here and doing well.
  • by planckscale (579258) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:28PM (#8252493) Journal
    That's all I need is an always on centericq text message center with gkrellm running to let me know when I have new emails, my cpu usage and maybe a virtual desktop into any IP address while on speakerphone with live video with gps location and news and weather alerts vibrating color ringtones bash shell mp3 playing miniDVDdiskburner ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh *splat* head explodes

  • great (Score:5, Funny)

    by Triumph The Insult C (586706) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:29PM (#8252501) Homepage Journal
    now, not only do i have to deal with people talking on cell phones while driving, i potentially have to deal with people compiling kernels on their cell phones while driving
  • funny... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by djupedal (584558) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:29PM (#8252505)
    The only downside is that it appear to only be available in China right now

    Downside for you, maybe. No downside for anyone that lives/works where these devices are used.
    • Re:funny... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stratjakt (596332)
      Also not a downside for those who simply want a phone, and really dont care about the politics or philosophy of the firmware inside such phone.
      • Re:funny... (Score:2, Interesting)

        It is a downside for those of us who just want a fricken phone + phone # storage. Im surprised that most phone makes don't offer a basic model for each of model lines. No bells or whistles, just a good reliable phone. Imagine how long my Motorola V2260 would last with one of these new batteries (which have to power colour displays, sound chips, flash memory, mp3 players, an advanced OS, toast maker, Tony Hawk 3). I just hope mine doesn't die anytime soon.
        • Don't give me that drivle. There are a heap of basic phones available on the market, mostly available in pre-paid packages here in Australia.
          How bout the Panasonic GD55 [panasonicmobile.com]? Its a lovely phone with no extra features, with the benefit of being tiny. There are heaps of others, with a large range of basic Siemens.
          I for one love integration of features, but there are plenty of basic phones around.
        • Dude, the market is flooded with basic phones. Have you seen the Verizon catalog lately? They have a huge selection of basic phones for $30 or less. So if you "just want a fricken phone + phone # storage", hey, knock yourself out.

          Second, what makes you think bells and whistles automatically make for a bad phone? I can use my phone [cnet.com] for a lot more than just calling people, and you know what? It's still a really good phone. Don't knock it till you try it.

  • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:33PM (#8252551)
    Full of open source?

    "Please deposit $699 for the next 3 minutes. Thank you for using Cingudarl."
  • by Roofus (15591)
    In fact, I'm not buying any Motorola phones until they come out with one that supports Bluetooth. Sorry Nextel, your service is useless to me until you get some decent phones.
  • Why does noone ever call on folks who use embedded OSS products to release the source, at least to people who buy the products?
  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:02PM (#8252850) Homepage
    Does that mean that the phone will run all of the word/excel macro virii/viruses?
  • DVDs are released first in North America. Everyone else in the world has to wait 6-12 months.
  • by plinius (714075) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:10PM (#8252975)
    There's no point in calling it open source if the sources aren't available. And somehow I doubt that yet another big company embracing open source will actually include the sources with the product.
  • I don't care where it's sold (I bought a Sony-Ericsson P900 from Asia because I couldn't find anyone selling the A760). I want that phone. Could someone post a website of a company that sells it?

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