With Symbian’s clock ticking and MeeGo not getting a chance to shine (and who knows how RIM will be faring in another year’s time), we’re looking at a future that’s very much an Android/iOS/Windows Phone competition. That’s not to say that a more limited roster of contestants means we’ll see any less innovation, but it is what it is. One of the promising avenues for new smartphone operating systems is as a derivative of an open-sourced platform like Android. Fusion Garage intends to release a handset running just such an OS, the Grid 4 smartphone with its Android-based GridOS.
GridOS starts with Android’s kernel and adds its own layers on top. We’ve gotten a look at some screenshots and a little video, but it remains to be seen just how different Fusion Garage will make things, or if we’ll end up with something that feels less like a new OS and more like an Android UI replacement with some custom apps. The platform will be compatible enough that you’ll be able to run standard Android apps.
The Grid 4 smartphone sounds like what’s becoming a mid-range set of specs for a modern Android device, with a 1GHz single-core Snapdragon (or is it? The phone’s feature page advertises a “dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon”, but the listed chip is a single-core component), 512MB of RAM, 16GB of flash, and a four-inch WVGA display. Tri-band HSDPA should let the Grid 4 operate on AT&T in the States once it arrives. Look for it to cost about $400, presumably off-contract.
We’ll wait to see the hardware and GridOS to judge them on their own merits, but Fusion Garage has a bit of a checkered past when it comes to mobile electronics, with a very public battle with TechCrunch over the CrunchPad/JooJoo tablet, as well as facing accusations of GPL violations. It’s enough to make us cautious, but we’ll let the Grid 4 speak for itself.