Reactions From Other People to News of OpenMoko

Bryan Fink bryan.fink at
Thu Jan 25 16:19:43 CET 2007

Hi all.  I've been talking up OpenMoko to everyone I know, and I felt
like there may be some people around here who would be interested in
the reactions I've gotten.

The main camps are as you would expect: positively-excited,
negatively-excited, and indifferent.  What I think is interesting, is
why people put themselves in those camps.

Surprisingly, few of the positively-excited people I've "recruited" so
far are coders.  They're actually more interested in the fact that
it's open, and not "controlled" by some faceless corporation.  They're
excited that they won't have to be stuck with Nokia's/Motorolla's/etc.
crappy software and forced upgrade path.  As I'm in the U.S., they're
also surprised and excited to hear that it's naturally "unlocked" so
they can choose whatever provider they want.

I did have one person who ended up positively-excited, but hesitated
briefly before that.  I had been talking up the "freedom to tinker"
line, and they got worried that you would *have* to be a tinkerer to
even get the phone working.  Assuring them of out-of-the-box
functionality and the "OpenMoko Certified" download center was

Also surprisingly, the one truly negatively-excited person I met said
exactly this, "Great, so I'll have a phone that just randomly crashes
for no reason."  I know that he has run Red Hat Linux, and codes for a
living.  But, he has had poor experience with linux stability -
specifically around crappy drivers for new graphics accelerators.  So,
just as a warning, mentioning linux in an OpenMoko discussion will not
automatically win you friends.

Finally, by far the largest camp is the indifferent class.  Many
people are quick to ask, "Why would you want an open source phone?"
Answers of the, "So I know exactly what my phone is doing at all times
- no secrets," variety typically get you labeled paranoid.  Answers of
the, "Because I will be able to modify absolutely anything about it,"
yield further questions to which further answers like, "I don't know,
but *something*," are not enough.  And, there's always the, "Well, I'm
perfectly happy with what I have now," people.  My feeling is that
these people won't be convinced until there's considerable buzz from
many people who have actually tried OpenMoko and like some specific
feature about it.

Has anyone else had a different variety of reactions?


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