Sean Moss-Pultz, CEO of failed startup OpenMoko, launches WikiReader; AAA-battery powered encyclopedia

Raise your hands, how many of you remember OpenMoko? It was an ambitious open source project lead by Sean Moss-Pultz to create a complete, 100% open source Linux powered mobile phone. When I say 100%, I mean 100%, even the cellular software was open source. Not only was the hardware open source, but the schematics on how to build the OpenMoko handset was also open source. It failed because no one really cares about open source, people care if your product is good, and the OpenMoko left a lot to be desired. History lesson aside, today, on OpenMoko’s mailing list, which oddly enough I’m still subscribed to, Sean announced the WikiReader:

Dear Community!

Today, with the greatest of pleasure, I am ready to share with you the
birth of our third product — WikiReader. Three simple buttons put
three million Wikipedia articles in the palm of your hand. Accessible
immediately, anytime, anywhere without requiring an Internet
connection. No strings attached. With WikiReader you’ll be prepared
for those unexpected moments when curiosity strikes. And once you have
it, you’ll realize how often you ask yourself questions during the
day.

WikiReader takes our original ideas of openness and accessibility to
an even greater realm. WikiReader is so amazingly simple. There really
is no interface. You turn it on and instantly become immersed in the
rich world of reading specific topics or the serendipitous pleasure of
discovering something by chance. It’s perfect for all ages.

From the “Aha!” moment when we held our first prototypes, to the last
few months as we worked around the clock to polish every last detail,
this product was a joy to make and even more fun to experience. We are
head-over-heels in love with WikiReader. Never have I found so much
fun in the little moments of curiosity life offers us. Try one and I’m
sure you’ll agree that we’ve delivered the essence of reading
Wikipedia in an addictively simple form factor.

Sales start today at http://thewikireader.com. Enjoy. Tell your
friends. And let us know what you think!

Sincerely

Sean Moss-Pultz

In short: the WikiReader has no cellular radio, or any radios at all actually, inside. It’s just an offline scratch resistant tempered glass capacitive touch screen device with 3 buttons, and 3 million Wikipedia articles stored on a built in, removable, and upgradable, microSD card. It runs on 2x AAA batteries and lasts for 1 year if used for 15 minutes per day, so that is a little over 90 hours of use. Thomas Meyerhoffer designed it, and it will cost only $99. You’ll be able to purchase it from here “soon” according to the website.

More pictures, and even a few videos, can be found here.

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