Target Market (was: Re: Charger?)

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at
Mon Apr 14 20:06:35 CEST 2008

Am 14.04.2008 um 18:07 schrieb Lowell Higley:
> On Mon, Apr 14, 2008 at 4:01 AM, thomasg <thomas at>  
> wrote:
> >>Well, you'll get used to it :)
> >>USB-Charging is fine. You can use a standard usb-wallcharger as  
> well as any mini-usb cable or usb-carchargers and so on.
> I know this isn't the case, but if were to HAVE to plug it into a  
> computer, it would be a deal killer for me. I haven't been home in  
> over a month.  I am a road warrior (I spend 80% of my time on the  
> road) and I don't always have the option to pull out my laptop to  
> charge my phone. Make sense?
> I'm going to change the topic a little bit.  I'm a little concerned  
> about the direction of these messages.  It seems like the thought  
> that goes into them isn't that consumer focused.  It's more personal  
> opinion based than anything else, personal preference. My original  
> statement was to reflect the thought of what a consumer expects (not  
> want) in a phone they buy.  I know for now this is still a geeky  
> device for those of like that like cool tech toys.  But isn't the  
> end goal to create a device that end consumers would want to buy?  I  
> see mentions here and there but I don't see a concerted effort to  
> make this a consumer device one day.  That was what I was trying to  
> say more than, "hey, I have to have a wall charger."
> Let me give you another example... I've probably showed 20 people  
> pics of the Neo1973.  You want to know what I hear?  "Man, that's  
> ugly!"  That's what I hear every time.

I have made the same observations when showing the Neo. An additional  
feedback came from a former key account manager who had sold millions  
of phones to Vodafone and other MNOs: it is impossible to sell this  
industrial design to any mobile network operator because they are  
fashion and not technology driven.

My hope is that the GTA03 will have a much more appealing redesign  
(i.e. new industrial design, going through some focus groups).  
Otherwise there will never be a mass market version since there will  
be no support of any MNO. Look how the iPhone has raised the bar and  
how the whole industry is following because the mass market starts to  
take the iPhone as the reference. Why is the iPhone such a success?  
Because of technology? Not really. There are devices out there with  
comparable (or even better) feature set (e.g. higher screen  
resolution, UMTS). It is because it has really new appearance,  
interaction and materials. The Neo is good and really good hardware  
quality (I have seen many devices which are much worse) but it is not  
at all outstanding. Except its Linux openness. But that is something  
only a very very small target group is interested per se.

Anyway, it is too late to change anything with the GTA02.

> Now you're thinking "so what? it's functional".  You and I may not  
> care what it looks like, but consumers do.  I'm guessing no focus  
> group was done by FIC way back when as the prototype was created.   
> It was a bunch of techie/engineering types that generally have no  
> clue what consumers want. I can say that because I used to be one of  
> those techie types that focused on the technology versus the  
> requirements of the customer.  I'm not trying to bash the team in  
> any respect.. They've done a great job pioneering the first "freed  
> phone".  Just maybe the consumer isn't their/our focus?  And if not,  
> will it ever be?

Let's hope so.

> The bottom line is who is the target market for this product?   
> That's who I am always going to answer questions for.  Anyways, I  
> digress.  I'm sure I'll get a few barbs/flames out of this one.

For GTA01 and GTA02 it is clearly the Linux hacker who likes to  
install his own kernels and wants to help developing and fixing the  
Openmoko software (by spending his spare time). No end-user/consumer.  
IT departments of large enterprises? No.

Just my 2ct from being an engineer by education who has worked 10  
years in product management and product strategy/roadmap development  
of a large mobile phone manufacturer...

Nevertheless I see the Freerunner as a project that needs to be  
supported (just for idealistic reasons).

-- hns

PS: we work with Openmoko to redistribute the Freerunner in Europe so  
that you don't have to care about import taxes and missing or  
complicated warranties.
We are already taking preorders:

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