Much ado is made of mobile phone makers’ tyrannical control over their devices, but few companies have stepped up to the plate to offer a truly open alternative. OpenMoko seems to be taking the mission seriously, making its FreeRunner phone available this week for $399 (orders start Friday). The FreeRunner’s operating system is fully open, meaning anyone can develop software for it. Hardware specs are as follows: tri-band GSM radio for connectivity to either T-Mobile or AT&T networks in the US, as well as a 2.8-inch VGA touchscreen, WiFi, 2.5G data (sorry, no 3G here), AGPS, Bluetooth 2.0, 128MB of RAM and 256MB of flash memory.
Though some phone makers (like Apple [NASDAQ:AAPL]) have touted their devices as open to software development from anyone and everyone, that’s usually not the case; in Apple’s scenario, your application must be approved by Apple to be listed in the iPhone’s application store, where Steve-O can take a cut of the price of your software title if he so wishes. Truly open platforms have no single discretionary body approving or rejecting software, for better or worse.