A marketing angle

Ben F-W openmoko at flemingwilliams.co.uk
Wed Nov 22 22:34:37 CET 2006

Stefan Schmidt wrote:
> On Tue, 2006-11-21 at 17:12, Ben F-W wrote:
>> Stefan Schmidt wrote:
>>> Nothing. It's exactly what FIC want.
>> Could you explain this? How would it benefit FIC for a rival 
>> manufacturer to take a program developed for the OpenMoko platform and 
>> adjust it to work on their own, closed, Linux implementation on their 
>> phones?
> Porting the apps from OpenMoko over to Qtopia is a real pita. No new
> kernel features, X instead of framebuffer, gtk instead of qt. Writing
> it from scratch seems easier for me.
Ah, now I understand what you mean! So the restrictions on a rival 
taking our putative 'killer app' and putting it onto their own 
Linux-based mobile are not legal, but technical. That makes much more 
sense to me.

What I was essentially getting at here is what's called 'sustained 
competitive differentiation' in marketing-speak. That means that to 
break into this market, FIC would have to have a long-term advantage 
over rivals that they were unable to copy - or which, by the time 
they've copied it, is out of date. What concerned me about the GPL'd 
'killer app' is that there was nothing to stop a rival company just 
taking the program and putting it onto their own handset - which 
wouldn't contravene the GPL as I understand it. Competitive 
differentiation lost.

However, if what you say is true, there would be a major effort required 
by the rival in converting the app over to their handset (if it runs 
Qtopia). That doesn't mean that they couldn't do it, but it's a lot harder.
> And you should not forget that the company has to do it alone. No
> community jumps in and help.
And this is the second part of the solution. By the time the rival 
company had taken a GPL'd program and adapted it for their own system, 
the program they had forked would have been improved: bugs fixed, 
features added and so on. So they'd have to keep maintaining the forked 
program themselves - without the savings offered by the help from the 
community. Competitive differentiation maintained.

This does rest on the assumption that the rival's system isn't based on 
X and GTK and so on, which would mean there could still be a problem. 
But it's a lot less likely in the short term.
> Really open your platform and you get lots of brilliant software
> engineers for free. No need to pay yopur own devs for writing apps.
> More apps makes it more interesting for users.
> As you can see I don't know the business plan from FIC. I only think
> that I share the point of view with Sean on most of the parts.
> �ave a real open platform on linux smartphones was the reason I joined
> OpenEZX. And I'm eager to see OpenMoko running on it as software
> stack. :)
Fully agree with all of the above!



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