steves favorite question (RE: Do we REALLY need a phone?)

steve steve at
Mon May 12 02:43:24 CEST 2008

I like questions like this. Questions like this deconstruct what we know,
reorder what we have lazily come to accept, restructure what we want and
need and will buy.

remixing the phone as we know it.

what new thing will take its place?

making calls isn’t the killer app. freeing the phone and freeing the network

So think about that.

-----Original Message-----
From: community-bounces at
[mailto:community-bounces at] On Behalf Of Ortwin Regel
Sent: Monday, April 21, 2008 12:37 PM
To: List for Openmoko community discussion
Subject: Re: Do we REALLY need a phone?

The problem with small handheld devices is that most of the time it's
cheaper to put everything into the device than to create variants.
Modularity causes problems with design and space and is also
I also still need a GSM modem and will for a few years. Sure, I'd like
to use WLAN, Bluetooth and UMTS whenever possible but these networks
don't cover the whole country / most of the planet. When there is no
other network, I need GSM to get onto the internet, even if it's slow.


On 4/20/08, Stefano Cavallari <stefano at> wrote:
> (sorry for the length of this message)
> I was thinking today about how the phone system is quite dead without no
> noticing it. We are paying unreasonable tariffs for just sending data
> happens to be voice. The whole motivation behind having a number is no
> longer
> existent as with portability and roaming you don't do switching anymore.
> So you don't want to access the telephone network, you want to access the
> Internet, then do whatever you want from there.
> Yes in the meantime you may still want to do normal calls but the focus is
> in
> doing VoIP and IM.
> Because of this I think the next moko should be designed around this and
> mainly a handheld. With no included GSM module so you can focus in the
> interesting part of the product and don't bet on the next mainstream
> communication technology (mobile wimax? UMTS? EDGE? CDMA something?) and
> just
> provide the one you are sure they will be supported for much time (wifi,
> bluetooth).
> Then you just provide some module to access the chosen network, like a
> card (probably with a big external part like most wifi ones).
> I was thinking of a beast like a bluetooth UMTS dongle. There are already
> UMTS dongle right now which emulates a serial port. So it's a no brainer
> take an existing design, strip the usb-serial chip and put a
> bluetooth-serial
> chip and a battery (the usual nokia one which most GPS and the Neo uses).
> This gives the advantage of not having a powerful antenna attached to the
> ear
> (when talking) or anyway near you (when messaging, browsing).
> You can put it near a window and get better signal, and so on.
> Of course some may find the SDIO more appealing or not. Anyway if you keep
> this component separated you let the user choose whether they really need
> GSM, you can develop the hardware WAY faster and most important, you don't
> have to wait for the comm. modules to be functional to start selling, and
> a comm. module happens to be a total market/design/whatever failure you
> still
> have the main product (the handheld) selling well.
> Just my (long) 2 ¢
> --

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