Open source phone out next year

A dual mode phone which runs on the Linux operating system will be put on sale early next year by D-Link.

Better known as a maker of wireless and network switching products, D-Link is making its first foray into GSM phones with the V-CLICK.

The V-CLICK will switch between Wi-Fi and GSM or GPRS networks at the click of a button, says D-Link, and will be 'unlocked', so users should be able to use it with any SIM card.

But what appears to distinguish it from other dual mode offers is its use of open source software. It supports the Opera Mobile browser for on the road web surfing, so is aimed clearly at users who want an alternative to Microsoft's mobile vision.

Rob Bamforth, mobile analyst with research company Quocirca, says there's no reason why such a phone should only be a 'tool for geeks', but fears D-Link's problem could be its lack of track record in the competitive mobile device market.

"If the V-CLICK has been done as well as it looks like it has, with all the open source features embedded, then it need not fall into the 'good for hobbyists' trap," he told IT Pro. "But with the best will in the world, people are going to look at the badge of the front of the phone and ask 'Who's D-Link?'"

He believes that the phone could succeed well in developing markets where powerful brands have less reach, and where the value and flexibility of open source could play well. "Perhaps this phone could be the herald of a rush of similar products - it certainly has an interesting combinations of features," he said.

For the feature-minded, the V-CLICK will have up to 24Mb of memory for storage of music and videos, a 2-inch, 176 x 220-pixel color display, and will weigh 3.4 ounces. Tri-band (900/1800/1900) GSM radio mean it should work with any GSM or GPRS SIM card, says D-Link, including pre-paid SIM cards.