[Community] Growing the Community

Bob Ham rah at settrans.net
Sat Jun 15 11:39:11 CEST 2013

On Sat, 2013-06-15 at 09:29 +0200, Radek Polak wrote:
> On Friday, June 14, 2013 04:04:41 PM Bob Ham wrote:
> > Freedom *is* a feature over others.
> > 
> > The question I asked is: why do you think phones need freedom *and*
> > something else?  You haven't answered that.
> If it was free top model phone (like galaxy 4, hct one) then yes, you are 
> right.
> But we dont have big full HD display, we dont have thin pretty case from high 
> quality material, so i was thinking that we should offer something else 
> instead to make it appealing.

I see.  I don't think it's necessary to compete directly with market
leaders, or have unique technology in order to be successful.  Take the
Fairphone: there is nothing technologically unique about it but it
already has a very successful marketing campaign and has actually
brought the dollars in with pre-orders.  9000+ pre-orders.

We don't need to produce a phone with unique technological features.  A
working, free phone will be enough to be successful.

> > The Freerunner wasn't a "really working" phone when it was brought to
> > market.  From what I understand, the software was very incomplete and
> > had major problems.  (And attainment of the goal of "really working" was
> > actually retarded by Openmoko Inc. during the time the phone was on the
> > market as they repeatedly tried to start from scratch.)
> You are right that it wasnt, but i dont take the argument these days. You can 
> buy really cheap Freerunner and have it nearly perfectly working with 
> Androind/QtMoko but nobody is doing it.

You may be able to buy Freerunners on the second-hand market or old
stock from resellers but I think it's a stretch to say the Freerunner is
still "on the market".  Nobody is marketing it.  Also, no manufacturing
has been done for four or five years, there is no official support and
in fact, the manufacturer is seemingly dead.  It *was* an example of a
free phone being on the market but it isn't any more.

The Freerunner sold 15,000 units; 15,000 people already did it.  It
*was* a success, even though it wasn't usable.

However, the success of the Freerunner actually works against us.  The
Freerunner was the first free phone.  The market, including hackers, has
learned to be wary of such efforts; the Freerunner gained a reputation
because it wasn't usable when it was sold.  We now have to work harder
to produce a phone that is rock solid from the start because of the
Freerunner's reputation.

The market will not buy in to phones that don't work when you take them
out of the box.  Note that the Fairphone is advertised as running
Android and Android phones have a reputation for working when you take
them out of the box.

Here is the acid test I think any phone needs to pass in order to be
successful: you must be able to take the phone out of the box, stick a
SIM card in, charge the phone, start using it fully, stick it in your
pocket, and never, for the entirety of the life of the hardware, update
any software on it to a newer version.

When we have a phone OS that's solid enough to be used for 10+ years
without an update, we'll be in a position to produce a free phone that
will be a success.

Bob Ham <rah at settrans.net>

for (;;) { ++pancakes; }
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