QVGA V/s VGA for GTA03 - product management, features & assumptions

Stroller linux.luser at myrealbox.com
Tue Jun 10 20:13:21 CEST 2008

On 9 Jun 2008, at 01:56, Carsten Haitzler (The Rasterman) wrote:
> ... i am asked by product management to do
> things that are just not possible in vga (to do sanely/fast).
> ... in the end if product management want X they get X. and
> if for X to happen we go QVGA, then so be it. you guys lose. i need  
> a very very
> very strong argument against going to qvga - and that means product  
> management
> need to drop a feature.

On 10 Jun 2008, at 11:55, Carsten Haitzler (The Rasterman) wrote:
> ... graphics is the most intensive thing your device is likely to  
> do in terms of
> processing. if you want soft drop shadows, alpha blending (and  
> trust me -
> everyone is drooling for it out there - the iphone is doing it  
> already) the
> sheer memory bandwidth and cycles needed to do that stuff at a  
> smooth framerate
> is astounding. sure - if your life is plain with still images/ 
> content and
> everything is plain solid rectangles, you don't. but i am being  
> shown designs
> wanted that REQUIRE compositing - REQUIRE alpha blending and all  
> that snazz.
> this is coming to me and i need a way to accommodate it in the long  
> run
> ... cpu alone can't do it all - unless you really cut down the  
> workload. that means too
> bad - no alpha" ...

On 6 Jun 2008, at 08:45, Carsten Haitzler (The Rasterman) wrote:
> ... if we want to play the "my specs are better than your specs"
> game right now, we will lose.
> ... if all you measure a device on is dpi and pixel
> count, you are being silly. how it looks matters even more. dpi  
> helps there,
> but so does compositing, translucency, smooth animation etc. in  
> fact these
> probably have a much greater "buy me" effect. by far more. i'll put  
> money on
> that bet actually (this is just speaking from having done eyecandy  
> for over a
> decade - on linux, and having seen what it can do to attract  
> people). to make
> things like compositing fast, smooth and nice, you must lower  
> resolution to do
> it, or increase graphics power grunt. so given that graphicws grunt  
> is not
> changing, cpu is not, the only 2 things that can change are screen  
> resolution
> or the "eyecandy" has to remain toned down. so does vga buy you  
> more sales for
> the average joe than a sexy bit of eyecandy at qvga? i'm leaning to  
> qvga +
> eyecandy myself.

Reading these posts of the last few days it has just occurred to me  
that it's not Carsten we should be beating up on here.
Who the heck asked for translucency and flashy animations?

Management seem to be asking for this "alpha" bleeding rubbish, and  
it seems to me that we users need to be telling management that we  
don't care a heck for it.

Sure, I know the iPhone does this now, but that doesn't mean Openmoko  
has to do it. Do we really want Openmoko to be just another iPhone  
clone? I know we see a fair number of posts on here about the iPhone,  
but surely that's just a result of the current buzz - is UI animation  
really a *necessity* in the long-term (or medium-term) future of the  
mobile phone market?

DISCLAIMER: I haven't used an iPhone, and I'm not terribly interested  
in it. I do use a Mac as my main desktop, but that's not for the  
animation, it's because I want something that "just works" when I sit  
down at my computer. All us Mac fans found Expose to be a *massive*  
UI improvement when it was released, but that's because virtual  
desktops have always been rubbish on a Mac - with so many windows on  
a single desktop *some* way of finding the bottom-most one was  
required. The other day I was talking to a Linux developer who turned  
off compiz on his desktop because it slowed down his productivity -  
you simply don't need Expose if you have virtual desktops (which  
admittedly are not suitable for my granny).

It seems to me that, whilst the iPhone's animation may "wow" people,  
what really distinguishes the iPhone is the same attention to UI  
simplicity that Apple have always brought to their products. It does  
a FEW things amazingly well, and that's where it separates itself  
from the majority of phones on the market, none of which *quite* suit  
the mass-market of users. Most users don't want to understand the  
filesystem on their mobile phone, so Apple do away with it; Apple  
have made it spectacularly easy (so much so that one must include in  
the discussion the word "intuitive") to email a photo taken on the  
camera or grabbed from a webpage, but they make it impossible to  
email attachments under many other circumstances. The majority of  
users don't want to copy & paste text on their mobile phones, so  
Apple just got rid of it - other manufacturers "muddy up" the phones  
they aim at girls and little old ladies (excuse me) by including the  
ability to copy & paste; Apple have realised that only a minority of  
business-phone users want or need that.

The Neo & Freerunner have both been "smartphones", and that's surely  
the interest that draws Linux users to this list. We want to be able  
to shell into our unix servers, read PDFs and so on. The idea of an  
open phone fires our imagination because we can integrate our  
contacts from our LDAP servers and our diary with an iCal server, we  
can do whatever the heck we want with Openmoko - we want to ADD  
features, not remove them.

In the context of that, does animation and transparency matter? Heck  
no! We want a phone that displays text & icons on the screen, and as  
long as the phone does that quick enough, we don't want you wasting  
resources on trying to make the "experience" more flashy.

There has been mention in these threads about the screen requirements  
of smaller phones. I can only conclude from this that FIC are  
planning to leverage their experience in building smartphone hardware  
in order to break into to the larger market of small "girlie" and  
"soccer mom" phones. Fine, but please don't do this at the expense of  
your smartphone market. Honestly, I don't see how you can do this  
well, without castrating your power-phone offerings.

Parts of this conversation have focussed on making a "use case" for  
VGA screens, but please, FIC management, make a use case for  
transparency and flashy animations before having Carsten work on it.  
Whilst I was writing an Apple spam arrived here, promoting today's  
new iPhone announcement - I clicked on the link to iSteve's  
presentation. The "enterprise" take-up from Fortune 500 companies was  
surely impressive, but this leverage is because of Exchange- 
compatibility and all the features that OS X gives to the iPhone for  
free, not the flashy animations. This is where Openmoko can compete.

I could write a lot, LOT more here,


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