[Gta04-owner] Openmoko Community Survey 2011 – Results

Boudewijn wankelwankel at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 16 11:45:37 CET 2012


On Monday 16 January 2012 10:59:46 Bob Ham wrote:
> On 16/01/2012 07:53, Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller wrote:
> > 4. a final observation is that I have to conclude that some of us have
> > no realistic perception of the market prices.
> 
> Almost certainly so; most people in the mobile phone market will never
> actually buy a mobile phone.  The vast majority of people will buy a
> contract with a free phone, (...)
Make that, "a contract with the price of the phone calculated in", but that's 
of course what you mean and the problem with the perception. Still, I would 
expect our target group to know how the construction works, and know the 
difference between free and free.

> > The cheapest UMTS Android 2.2 device I can currently get in
> > Germany is at 129 EUR (most likely from some overstock clearance).
> > Has a 320x240 display, no sensors, no free and open software. No
> > hardware description, no schematics. Appears to be crap and much
> > less featured than the GTA04. But the poll result indicates this is the
> > way we should go. Really?
> 
> Perhaps a simple phone that does what it does, and does it well, is a
> good idea.  A cut-down phone running free software could well be very
> popular.  Perhaps the answer is hidden in Q1: the high-end feature set.
> Let me reverse the question: why produce a phone with a high-end feature
> set, rather than a functional phone with a low-end feature set?
If I reasoned correctly, the lower-end Phoenux was dropped after most (all?) 
early adopters choose the board with all sensors placed.

> Cost is evidently a significant issue.  The lack of sales demonstrates
> the need to find the right balance between cost and features.
> Unfortuntely, it seems that the GTA04 is not so well balanced in this
> respect.  That's not to say it won't be successful; it's still pretty
> much the only option for those who have strong beliefs about freedom (or
> will be, once cases are readily available).  However, a low-end phone
> with a good balance between cost and features will no doubt be much more
> widely popular.
With the high integration of most chips, I think the low price of low-end 
phones is more artificial than actual. In high-volume products boards are 
often shared between different versions, and that goes even more for low 
volume products (such as Phoenux). The cost of developing a low-cost board 
would outrun the production cost of a low-end board and increase the price of 
the high-end version, since both versions would run at even lower volumes.

So you're left with development for a high-end board, that is sold as low-end 
by leaving out a few of the chips. The cost price and additional cost of 
placing the chips for the high-end version is not enough to make the low-end 
version marketable, so the high-end version has to be sold at an artificial 
high price.

Proposing a libre Nokia 3210 at a "low" price might be an option under 
conditions, if our target market is indeed looking for a "no-end" basic libre 
phone. Conditions are that the buyer does not mind the GSM-chip to be closed, 
or only reachable via standard AT-commands. As it is a "no-end" basic phone, 
it lacks any other features, so there is no application processor with closed 
software to replace by open software. Since it is a new development, same case 
manufacturing constraints apply as to the Phoenux. 

I am not overly negative, am I? 

It's just that the "consumer" market model is still geared towards mass 
production and mass consumption before economics of scale kick in. Hardware 
just has a real cost, even if it is free.

Boudewijn
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