Portrait of a Linux iPhone-killer wannabe

In the race to be the first “iPhone killer,” the most unlikely but perhaps most intriguing candidate is based on a new Linux platform with the peculiar name OpenMoko.

Major mobile phone vendors are tripping over themselves to release devices to compete with Apple’s iPhone.LG Electronics Inc. has its Prada, High Tech Computer Corp. has the Touch, and Samsung Group will release its Ultra Smart F700.

However, OpenMoko comes from a low-visibility, Taipei-based company, First International Computer Inc. (FIC), which is best known for manufacturing laptops for vendors such as Hewlett-Packard Co.

The first phone based on the OpenMoko platform, FIC’s Neo 1973, is currently available to developers, with wide release expected this autumn. Can a relatively unknown vendor using a new Linux platform succeed in such a highly competitive market?

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