I am also forwarding reply for the benefit of users of LIH, which I
got from Gurus, who are not on LIH.
Dear Prof. Rai,
Could you provide more details on what exactly you are looking for
here, as there can be several answers to this question depending on
* Several Motorola phones (probably also others) are Linux based,
but these do not give one access to the OS as a development
* For a truly open phone, i.e., one where you/your students can
get as close to the hardware as possible, there is OpenMoko.
Even though the company has gone out of this business, there
is a decent community around it. You can pick up a Freerunner
for USD 250-300, and another good thing about it is that one can
run various OS distributions on it, including Google's Android.
This would be the best learning tool, where the only aspects
of the phone that are hidden, such as the GSM stack, is because of
* If you want to make a commercial application, while still
retaining the ability for students to learn, your best bet now
is probably Android. It is based on Linux, and one can rebuild
it from scratch, though in order to distribute the application,
one would need to use formal Android releases from Google. Here,
one has to go through J2ME APIs offered by Google, but not much
is closed. Many manufacturers are moving to Android.
* For sheerly commercial applications, besides Android, these days
one has to target at least the iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, and
other vendors. The iPhone is very problematic, as Apple imposes
insane amounts of control on developers. The rest are open to
somewhat less of an extent than Android.