Engineering Driven vs. Community Driven (was Re: Ugliness)

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at
Wed Apr 30 10:55:35 CEST 2008

Hi all,
although I am jumping in the middle of the discussion, I think I have  
some valuable contributions
to bridge the engineering, marketing and community points of views.

Am 29.04.2008 um 20:03 schrieb Flemming Richter Mikkelsen:

> On 4/29/08, Lowell Higley <higleylh at> wrote:
> When I think of marketing I think of Apple and Google. Apple is for  
> some
> specific group of people while Google manage to reach all. Why?

This raises

Question 1: why don't we think of "Openmoko"?

> It is not because Google is free. Try to compare OpenOffice with m$  
> office.
> M$ office gets its users because it's pushed on us (huge  
> availability and
> commenly known).
> Google engineered what the market requested. They found out what
> people wanted and how to give it to them. I remember that I started  
> using

Question 2 (already asked by Lowell): which market requirements did  
Openmoko find
by focus groups?

BTW: There are Mobile Phone market studies for approx. 5000$ which make
predictions for the next 5 years. Nonsense? No. I did read and compare  
in 2005
the Strategy Analytics study from 2001 and it was quite accurately
predicting camera phones, smartphones, MP3 players, typical screen  
sizes etc.
Which all were quite rare in 2001.

Well, such a study never goes down to the level that the 2003 study  
did predict
the iPhone or Openmoko to come in 2007:)

But they can predict technological platforms to come.
I.e. 256MB RAM, 600MHz processor, VGA display. Comparing that with a
2001 Desktop PC gives an indication that 2008 is the year of originally
Desktop OS platforms to be mobilized.

IMHO using a community to discuss and reinvent the same things is a  
good approach,
but can't replace solid studies by specialists.

So defining the next generation product is not necessarily a community  

Question 3: is the Openmoko project aware of these studies and using  

> the search engine because someone recommended it to me. This was many
> years ago... other people recommended me other search engines. Some
> might be better, but Google is good enough so I do not change right  
> now.
> I have no idea about marketing, but I like Steve's idea about open
> marketing. If we show the phone to many people, some of them might get
> interested. I started using Linux because a friend of me told me  
> about it.

Marketing has two aspects:

a) Market knowledge/intelligence, i.e. who are the customers, what do  
want, how can we achieve that. This is the question about "Engineering  
vs. Community driven".

b) Market communication: this is making the market aware of the products

As someone who observes this project since it became public in  
November 2006,
Openmoko did have a great start by the initial announcements and got a  
lot of
press coverage, because it was

* unknown
* different (the openness approach)
* announced first products for February 2007

The reason why there was so much coverage is simple:

There had been rumours of an iPhone by end of 2006. And everyone  
thought that there is someone
coming around the corner who is better and even faster than Apple.

Now, let's compare what potential customers find if they research what  
they find in
the Internet:

* great start (termed the "iPhone killer")
* but delayed product delivery and not yet finished (software)
* Openmoko did a really good job in showing and explaining the device  
on many conferences
* iPhone has sold millions
* iPhone is also Open (to a reasonable extent) and it is very easy to  
switch from Linux development to OSX

So, the initial impression of being fast could not at all be hold.  
Unfortunately this is the notion
that many "multipliers", i.e. magazines and gazettes have. If they now  
will get the press release
that the Freerunner is being shipped, who will print this message?  
Financial Times?

They live from talking about the new and unexpected. The heroes. Here  
we are back to Apple Marketing.
They celebrate their products, announcements and achievements as heroes.

Quesion 4: how can we change that?

Answer: we can't change the past. So, we have to change the future.

Question 5: What must be improved?

Perhaps Openmoko device delivery must be faster. I know that all of  
you are
now crying that we all need to have a 110% perfect hardware. But the  
we pay for this is that devices are coming later and this adds up to  
low interest
by people who are *not* interested in the platform per se.

And, there must be hero stories for the gazettes. Isn't there anyone  
who was
in a critical situation and could get help only because he/she did  
have an Openmoko?

> If Openmoko should get out to x million people, I think we all need  
> to work
> together. Remember it is in our own interest to make Openmoko survive.
> Showing off the phone would make a difference. If we want to show

I had shown the Neo to many people and was astonished how many did  
know it. Nevertheless many of them would not change their current  
phone for
a Neo. So there are two aspects to separate here:

* market visibility
* product attractiveness

> something to non-hackers, we (the community) needs to develop a a lot
> of nice software, so that people say "Wow! I want that feature!".
> I remember my friend told me that he don't care about what his phone
> is able to do, as long as it is slim, long battery capacity and that  
> he is
> able to send/receive calls/SMS. Now I wonder, which features would
> be so valuable that he would not care about the physical design? If  
> the
> phone was also a nitendo wii? Well, then it is up to us, the  
> community,
> to implement software that makes the phone work as a nitendo wii.
> Only this way will garantee success.

Yes, 100% agreed.

It also shows a crucial point: most people are happy with what they
already have! This shows how difficult it is to create something that
people want to have because they see a benefit.

Question 6: which features does, can, will the Openmoko have which
other devices (with perhaps more attractive design) don't?

> Lack of features in hardware (e.g. camera) must be compensated for in
> software (e.g. image drawing programs and support for sending/ 
> receiving
> images).
> If Openmoko survives, we could get more open firmware and GPL'ed
> drivers. If Openmoko gets 1% of the mobile market, they can start to
> push companies into GPL.

Hm. Marketing has the notion of "creating Market pull". If you must push
your product into a market, you have not done your basic homework (i.e.
find out what the user needs and what those who can help to bring a  
product to
the market, i.e. network operators). Did Google or Apple or Amazon or  
eBay ever
"push" themselves into the market? They did have superior products in  
an early

Question 7: How can the Openmoko create market pull beyond this  


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