Apple is going to beat all competitors

Dylan McCall dylanmccall at
Sun Sep 9 20:28:10 CEST 2007

Jumping back to the iPhone discussion here...

The Neo is indeed behind the iPhone in almost every tech spec except one:
Do Not assume that to be useless to the average consumer!
Let's take a leaf out of Microsoft's book here. I am sure most of you have
seen their older advertising strategy, which pointed at the wealth of
software available on Windows. In my opinion, it was pretty powerful
advertising (except that it was Windows). That is what we have that no
closed platform can have: A diverse selection of software, choices and ideas
to suit Anyone. Anyone who has worked at a customer-service oriented
computer sales position probably has noticed: People have weird wishes.

Open platforms like this inspire thoughts of exploration, imagination and
individuality. All powerful ideas, all difficult to achieve for software
developed in single offices, in a finite number of heads tied together by

In my opinion, GPS can be the killer feature here that really makes the
price difference worthwhile - smaller specs or not. Look at the price of a
stand-alone GPS device with maps, and also consider that those things tend
to be: Ugly, closed, limited to few purposes, and (of course) independent
units from cell phones - which means more batteries, more bulkiness, and
more bother.
I encountered somebody recently who spent close to a thousand dollars on a
GPS maps system for his Palm Tungsten E, and a Europe maps pack. It stopped
working within a year, and he was pretty annoyed. There are thousands of
ways (both the "free beer" kind and the "free speech" kind) to get maps of
the entire world, seamlessly, without forking over a penny -- and the Neo
has that GPS module built right in.
I tend to drool, thinking of the things we can gain from an open device that
seamlessly knows where it is at any time - with that knowledge freely
accessible for every application on board. Sure, there are lots of devices
with built in GPS, but none of them come anywhere close to the full
potential of that feature! I think the Neo can, because, as with any open /
free project, there is infinite room to explore and experiment. The end user
(the one who isn't a developer) needn't know that the platform can be freely
developed for. What he would be interested in, however, is that the product
he invests in will grow in every direction without costing him anything
Why am I so excited about GPS? Collecting rich data, transparently, without
any need for extra input form the user, is a user interface gold mine. That
is why optical multitouch is so cool! All the user has to do is touch the
screen, which is a single easily understood action. With that one action,
the system can collect the shape of the object touching the screen, the
pressure, whether the object is touching or still lifted off the surface,
and the pattern on that object. With that much information, it can push out
results that are completely natural, without asking for anything unnatural
in return. It doesn't impose arbitrary or unrealistic limitations, and, in
the example of a paint brush used on the screen, it does not rely on
illusion by simulations; it interacts directly with the physical world.

GPS used smoothly in a platform like OpenMoko can do that, too.
-In the Scheduler, someone plans to go to a location which does not have a
map downloaded. Luckily, the GPS Maps system has a little daemon running
that watches for exactly that sort of thing; a message appears offering to
download maps for that region when an Internet connection becomes available.
-Tagging of Locations in the same interface as Contacts. Locations
recognized by GPS coordinates. Synchronising locations, sharing locations
(geocaching?), downloading notable locations via Maps (saving / viewing on
the Maps interface?).
-Known and tagged locations used by simpler tools to, for example,
deactivate the phone when in some locations.
-Tour guide tool; could pop up a message when near notable landmarks, as
tagged by other users in an Internet service. (Those landmarks downloaded,
as Locations, from that service).

This is all possible, even in devices without built in GPS (just tell it
where you are, or do it yourself), but what makes this cool is that it is
completely transparent. The device is gathering very useful information, and
it only needs the user's interaction at times when it would be completely
natural. (Natural meaning the exact same communication would be required if
the OpenMoko-powered device was a real person). That is cool and very
possible with this infrastructure. A dream user interface is one that helps
you do exactly what you tell it to do, exactly how you expect, without
asking for anything extra because of its own limitations.

Systems that focus on one's location in the real world are a fresh and
exciting direction to go, and really inspire the excitement of exploration
brought on by free software.

Dylan McCall

PS: Sorry about the dreamy, future feature thoughts-oriented message. Hehe,
I got a bit carried away. GPS is definitely the one thing we have that the
iPhone does not, and I have a suspicion that no popular closed platform will
ever risk what we can do here.

On 9/6/07, Denis Parchenko <cray at> wrote:
> Hi folks!
>   Anyone saw new Apple announcement? Now iPhone is priced at $399..
> =#=-===-==----=#=--- - -- -=#=-- - -   -      -
> Best regards,
>    Denis
> _______________________________________________
> OpenMoko community mailing list
> community at
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