Neo1973 Phase 1 sales / order process / misconception

Harald Welte laforge at
Tue Aug 7 09:27:17 CEST 2007

Hi all!

I tried to stay out of this entire discussion (like most non-technical
discussions) for a long time.

But I think there is just a big misconception of how and what at least
certain people percieve and what is actually going on.

First of all, OpenMoko is a very small company.  We have 19 full-time
employees in Taipei, plus something like seven external people, mostly
developers, not all of them full time.

Now think about this. 19 people to do everything, from sales through
software R&D, distribution, logistics, webshop, system administration,
handling all external inquiries, business development, and so on.  This
does not include the hardware R&D team inside FIC Mobility, which is
smaller than OpenMoko.

Everybody in that team works overtime, for many months - even way before
starting the 'phase 1' sales.

So starting to sell those developer previews is something that drains
every last resource that we have (and don't have). 

So please remember, this is an extremely small team, everyone doing the
best he can, trying to create a completely new class of mobile device.

Starting to sell those units to _interested developers_ who want to help
building this device is something that puts a lot of additional load on
us.  The community has been pressing us to release those devices as
early as possible, and that's what we did (after many mostly hardware
R&D delays). 

So if you have any kind of inquiry, remember that you are one of more
than 1000 other people who ordered in a very short timeframe.  It's
almost impossible to give any reasonable response.  And if every of
those > 1000 people inquire on the status of their order every day, then
we don't get anything done (especially not processing the actual orders)
but to respond to those status inquiries.

I know this is a very insatisfactory situation.  But please step back
for a minute and think about this consumer-like attitude of complaints
like "oh, you don't have the business process to handle orders".

Yes, we don't have the business process.  Yes, we don't have the people
and/or resources.  But: Yes, we're still doing it.  Selling unfinished
products to interested developers.  Developers who have an idea how
difficult this project is, and who want to help us moving forward with
this project.

But please don't think you're dealing with a multi-billion international
company with a sales and customer support department.  You are dealing
with a bunch of [mostly technical] people who have a strange idea about
what kind of difference they could achieve in the world of mobile

We have something like > 700 of your inquiries that nobody hasn't even
had a time to look at yet.  I'm not even talking about the > 800
inquiries that are somewhere being processed and have at least received
one response.

Oh, and don't think that hiring more people will help.  Think about how
long it takes for any new person to understand the process, and how much
time you need to spend to teach them.   The outcome would be visible at
a time that phase-1 for GTA01 has long been finished.

We're crazy because we're trying to do the impossible, with an
impossibly small amount of resources, and an impossibly small team.

So please understand that it's also impossible for us to respond to
individual inquiries.  You can place an order, you will get an order
confirmation.  We charge the credit card, you will get a confirmation
that the payment has received.  And you will get another message as soon
as your shipping has been made.  You can cancel at any point in time
before the item is shipped by mailing CANCEL on an otherwise empty line
to your ticket.

But please don't try to change addresses, inquire about the status
(which is clear based on the last mail you received), change the product
quantity, credit card number, or whatever.  Any such inquiry is bound to
be responded in a way longer than acceptable timeframe, and will
probably not have a satisfactory answer anyway, plus it will delay
everythign else.

Yes, this is no industry standard customer care.  But hell, we are
selling to developers inside our own community, not to end-users !?!

Thanks for your understanding.

- Harald Welte <laforge at>         
Software for the world's first truly open Free Software mobile phone

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