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Trolltech pulls the Greenphone

'Not really a hardware company'

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The Greenphone, launched with much publicity at LinuxWorld 2006, has been discontinued as Trolltech reckons the Neo 1973 can fulfil the role of a development platform, and therefore Greenphone has served its purpose.

LinuxDevices reports that Trolltech will continue to support their orphaned handset, but won't be making any more of them. According to Benoit Schilling, Trolltech's CTO, "Trolltech is not really a hardware company". But then he suggests the company might develop new devices, including some Wi-Fi VoIP products. Which does not sound like the hardware door has been completely shut.

Linux on phones is much-hyped, but Linux deployments are rarely as revolutionary as users expect. It comes in three distinct forms.

The first is the embedded form, where the users never know they're using Linux and the primary motivation is a cheap kernel. Applications all come pre-installed, although a Java virtual machine may be present.

The second form is what groups such as LiPs and the LiMO Foundation are looking for - a core Linux platform with standard UI and set of APIs, onto which third-parties can deploy after-sales applications. An open platform, based on Linux, but still with the security and control demanded by modern network operators.

The third form is what the Greenphone and the Neo 1973 provide: a completely open platform where users - i.e. hackers - are expected to change the operating system, and fiddle with the platform from its icons to its ADPUs. The completely open platform that many hackers think is the ultimate destination for mobile technology.

The question is - are there are enough hackers interested in the truly open platform to make manufacturing sustainable? And assuming there are, are there enough of them to sustain more than one model of such a handset?

Trolltech's withdrawal of the Greenphone would seem to indicate the answer to the second question is no, but the first remains very much open to debate. ®

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