[Gta04-owner] Invitation to indicate interest in next batch of GTA04A5 boards

Sam Tygier samtygier at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Apr 5 11:46:50 CEST 2013

On 26/03/13 10:22, Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller wrote:
> If you have ideas how to stimulate demand, please do!

Trying to make a competitive opensource phone is a huge challenge. The biggest tech companies in the world have smart phones as their top priority, some are willing and able to make a loss on each phone in order to get a slice of app revenue. The market is close to saturation (the people left without a smart phone mostly dont want one, or can't afford one). Getting opensource friendly components is hard. And the economics are stacked against a small player.

Some of these things are harder now that they were in 2007. And i'd guess Openmoko Inc sank several million USD into the project. We do have the advantage now that we have existing hardware designs, and a software stack.

The project never achieved the blessing of the FSF (i feel this is short sighed of them), and in some peoples eyes the GTA04 is not truly open. Its a shame that being the openest, and striving to be opener does not count to these folk. Still its possibly hurt the brand.

This year canonical and mozilla are both attempting to enter the phone market. In the set of people who want a smart phone, but dont want one from google, apple or ms, some will be happy with one from mozilla or canonical. They will tick various opensource and hackable boxes.

So maybe the project needs a complete change in direction. here are a few ideas:

*) Say that openmoko is a software project. We can't compete on hardware but we can make the best software for various existing phones. Make sure we have the best privacy, security, hackability etc. Sell the advantages of a true linux stack over an android stack.

*) Slight variation would be to convince an existing manufacturer to make the whole phone. Follow the spark/vivaldi route ( http://aseigo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/reveal.html http://aseigo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/spark-answers.html ). Not that it will make everything simple ( http://aseigo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/a-small-update-on-vivaldi.html ), but if it worked the GTA05 would a lot more competitive price and hardware wise.

*) Maybe we become more of a hardware project. Make a fuss about being the phone that can multiboot all the various software stacks (android, ubuntu, firefox, QtMoko, SHR etc). Target developers who want to test their apps on multiple platforms. But we have the challenge of why would someone chose a GTA04 over a Nexus 4?  How about a boot from sdcard button, easily accessible sd card and make the thing unbrickable.

*) Step back to a simpler idea. What's the cheapest simplest open phone that could be made. How about something like http://hlt.media.mit.edu/?p=2182 . Reach out to the hobbyist/arduino crowd. make some thing cheap enough that people will by it just to play with (like the raspberrypi). maybe people will come up with all sorts of crazy ideas for it, e.g. remote systems that communicate over sms. maybe it can have pluggable modules for gps or whatever else. If its a success, then you step up to a more advance model, arm CPU, colour screen, 3G.

*) Similar to above. Make a board that attaches to a raspberrypi, and adds GSM, GPS screen connector, etc. again it needs to be cheap enough that people buy it to play with. this might be able to reuse the beagleboard openmoko work, but the raspberrypi is a lot cheaper and easier to get that a beagleboard. and is small enough that it could almost make a usable (if clunky) phone.

*) Make a tablet. Would be similar hardware, but remove several complications. A tablet crashing is a lot less annoying than a phone crashing in the middle of a call. If successful, it would be easy to update into a phone. I'd imagine that there are more linux folk currently considering buying a tablet, than a new smartphone.

The last 3 ideas could probably run in parallel to existing plans.


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