[openmoko-announce] OpenMoko Challenges

Sean Moss-Pultz sean_mosko at fic.com.tw
Mon Feb 12 10:17:21 CET 2007

Dear Community,

We, the OpenMoko Team, have promised exciting news about our project
today. We have some information that we think you will like very much,
but also have some news we like less. Let us first address the
unpleasant part, before turning to the more cheerful part of this

After we announced OpenMoko last November, we were flooded with emails.
Most were absolutely encouraging, thanking us for undertaking this
project. And out of the many thousands of emails, only two requests came
again and again: "Where's bluetooth?" And, "Why doesn't it have WiFi?"

(We really do read _everything_ you write.)

Originally, bluetooth was in our product spec, however, this was left
out of our schematics in an early stage. At the time we were really
hurting for resources internally, so we did not push. Making changes to
a product while in the R&D stages can be quite painful. But after all
the incredible demand, post-November, we felt it had to be done.

We had a string of bad luck that really hurt our productivity. Each
hardware revision takes at least one month of time. Each month without
stable hardware means serious delays for software.

One time we received the wrong memory from our vendors and we failed to
catch this before production. Another time some key components ran out
of supply. And as if all that wasn't bad enough, our baseband leader's
mom died leaving a gaping wound in both his heart and our hardware

But we moved on. Little by little our hardware started to come together.
Around the middle of January we thought we finally found a stable
revision. At this point, our software was seriously behind schedule, but
as Alan Cox once said, "Free Software is always late."

January's announcement bought us more time to fix some hardware issues
still plaguing us. We also modified the position of the bluetooth module
to make way for a JTAG port (we're trying our best to be hacker
friendly). This required our vendor to design a special FPC to connect
the module to our board. Something on the order of 3 weeks would be
required to complete this "simple" task.

One thousand little Murphy's seems to be what we have running around
teasing this project. Less than a 7% yield rate is all that we got out 
of this new cable; not even enough to meet our Phase 0 demand. Needless 
to say, it was an incredibly depressing day for all of us.

"Tormented" is really the only word that we can think of now to describe
how we are feeling as a team, forced with making this decision: Do we  
delay again, wait for the hardware and software to be ready, or do we
just open up now as promised without reaching our key milestone?

Each of us, in different ways, have struggled with this decision for
the past five days. We're all extremely demanding of ourselves when it
comes to the quality of our work. Nearly every minute of our waking
lives have been spent on this project. So to be at this state, now, is
really hard on us.

Mickey Lauer, one of our core developers sent an email, only a few hours
ago, that put things back into perspective for us. He said,

   "A lot of people will be disappointed by the state of the
   software, but -- I may be a dreamer -- I prefer rough and truly
   open solutions (where I have the chance to help shaping the
   future) over cool, but already finished and closed solutions
   (where all I can do is take the platform as it is or NOT.)"

As planned, we are going to open this project up at this point. Within 
three days of this announcement you will all have access to our source 
code, Wiki, and Bugzilla.

Hopefully you can understand why we're at this less-than-ideal state.
But more importantly, we hope you understand that opening our code now,
and letting you join us in making this dream of an open phone platform
come true, is more important for us than mere appearances.

Regarding our Neo1973 hardware, we will send out the first batch of
phase 0 phones out around the end of this month. Sorry for not being
able to give an absolute date. Next week is Chinese New Year (we're in
Asia remember) and _everyone_ stops working for a full week. Having our
newly designed FPC built before is really wishful thinking.

All interested developers can purchase Neos starting late March. Please 
understand that phase 0 is a system of "checks and balances," so it
simply cannot be rushed. We want to get the framework right, the first
time around. Hopefully you all can live with the slight delays in our
schedule. We're all super excited to be cranking again and eagerly await
sending you hardware so you can join us in the party ;-) 
Finally, we will offer Neos to end users sometime in September of this
year. People everywhere will finally begin to understand the real power
of an open phone with a strong community behind it. Within this
relationship between humans and Neos, a new kind of device will emerge.
"Freed Phones", will have the potential to forever change the way people
think of technology. This is the challenge that drives us. And it awaits
each an every one of you, along with our full support.  

Now, "Free Your Phone."

The OpenMoko Team

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