A week from now, Monohm, a startup company based in Berkeley, California, is planning to unveil the Runcible, a smartphone that has a circular shape, which makes it more similar to old timepieces than most of today's rectangular-shaped mobile devices.
Monohm's creation has an interesting backstory to it. It was actually created by Apple and Sony alumni Aubrey Anderson, George Arriola, and Jason Proctor. Even its name has quite a curious origin. Runcible is a nonsense word invented by Edward Lear, an English poet from the 17th century. And because it is a nonsense word, it literally defies definition.
The unusual name does fit the device for which it is being used. Runcible is quite possibly the most un-smartphone-like handset one will ever get to see. For starters, its circular shape is a very far departure from the usual rectangular slab being employed by basically all existing smartphones today. Furthermore, the device comes with a convex-shaped back that is made of wood and is designed to allow users to nestle the smartphone comfortably on their palms.
And because it is a smartphone, after all, the Runcible comes with a display screen, and of course, a camera on the rear side. Functionality-wise, it can do most of the things that smartphones are capable of doing. It make and accept calls, send and receive text messages, and even take photos. In addition, it runs on Mozilla's Firefox mobile operating system, with a few tweaks of course, especially in optimizing interfaces with Runcible's circular display.
However, what it does not have is a home screen, and an ability to run mobile apps. Nevertheless, the Runcible's creators are saying "no problem." Besides, the device was created to be our generation's version of the pocket watch. Sure, you can always get a wristwatch out of various makes and models, but if you want some distinct style and some class, you would go for a pocket watch.
Monohm appears to harbor no delusions about competing with the iPhones and Galaxy smartphones out there. Instead, it looks like the company is going for counter-programming -- offering a smartphone that will only appeal to a small group of buyers.
Runcible is expected to be officially announced by Monohm next week at the Mobile World Congress trade show to be held in Barcelona, Spain. The device will debut as an exclusive launch partner for Japanese carrier KDDI (Monohm has some Japanese roots, its name is derived from the Japanese word mono meaning "object"). Monohm is already in talks with other carriers, but no final word yet as of this writing.
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