Sean's speech at ESC about making a 3G device

Steve Mosher steve at
Sat Apr 4 08:27:02 CEST 2009

See below

Arigead wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Steve Mosher wrote:
>> Since I worked on the presentation with Sean for the days he was here in
>> SF, let me give you my view and sean's view. That way we won't get into
>> some version of the telephone game.
>> Sean discussed three things at OpenExpo.
>> 1. Our successes.
>> 2. Our mistakes.
>> 3. Our challenges
>> I won't go over 1& 2 but I'll cover #3 since rasters perception has
>> a bit of color added to it. Only a tiny bit and he's entitled
>> to that color commentary, I'll just add what Sean and I, as authors
>> of the presentation, had as our message.
>> Our biggest challenge was to make a choice about how to spend the
>> balance of 2009.
>> There were two paths:
>> A: Fulfill our promises on FreeRunner and launch GTA03
>> B: Fulfill our promises on FreeRunner and  launch project B.
>> We will talk more about project B in the coming months, but these
>> salient facts should be able to guide any budding executives out there.
>> 1. GTA03 was in constant flux as a design.
>> 2. GTA03 schedule was consequently always slipping.
>> 3. The resources required for GTA03 are 3X those required for Project B.
>> 4. We don't have 3X.
>> So, we picked plan B.
>> Now comes the question, what about GTA03? how do we get there? And when?
>> and what is it?
>> Well my basic argument was and is this:
>> First we attend to the issues that still remain with the GTA02. That's
>> why the VP of marketing ( of all people) is working on the buzz fix
>> problem. Second we complete project B. When we've done that, then we
>> get to eat dessert. Essentially, I made the same argument I heard so
>> many times on this list: "How do expect us to buy a GTA03 when you've
>> yet to deliver on all the promise of FreeRunner?" And I took the
>> arguments I heard from disty seriously, "how do you expect us to buy FR,
>> when GTA03 is right around the corner?" And I accepted the arguments I 
>> heard from Engineers I respect who questioned the viability of the GTA03 
>> in the market place. All of those arguments said "put a bullet in its 
>> brain pan!"
>>   So, what about GTA03? As it was defined, it is dead. So how do we
>> get to a new GTA03? Two requirements: continue to improve GTA02; deliver
>> on project B. What is GTA03 and when do we get there? There are a number
>> of independent efforts out there that are pitching me ideas for GTA03.
>> I talked to sean a bit about this and I'd like to try to open up more
>> of the design process and the marketing process to the community.
>> Perhaps on a separate list. Some of these discussions have already started.
>> What can you do to help?
>> 1. Move GTA02 code upstream.
>> 2. Stay Involved.
>> 3. Continue work on applications
>> 4. Buy a FreeRunner.
>> 5. Get involved in GTA03 discussions
>> Best,
>> Steve
>> Carsten Haitzler (The Rasterman) wrote:
>>> On Thu, 2 Apr 2009 18:35:58 +0100 Rui Miguel Silva Seabra <rms at> said:
>>>> On Thu, Apr 02, 2009 at 06:13:36PM +0100, Justyn Butler wrote:
>>>>> 2009/4/2 Rui Miguel Silva Seabra <rms at>:
>>>>>> On Thu, Apr 02, 2009 at 05:38:42PM +0100, Justyn Butler wrote:
>>>>>>> He also explains what it would take to put 3G in the phones, saying
>>>>>>> that they'd do it (but the 3G part would be closed) if a customer put
>>>>>>> in a large enough order (ie 50,000 units).
>>>>>> You've just convinced me that, unless this changes, no OpenMoko with 3G
>>>>>> will get my money as far as I'm concerned :)
>>>>> Why the outrage?
>>>> I bought the OpenMoko to get a more Free Software phone, not one that
>>>> gets less and less Free as new devices come up :)
>>>> I seriously hope GTA3 fixes some of the most serious problems GTA2 had
>>>> regarding that.
>>> 3g can be done - just like the 2g on feeerunner - you will talk to a closed
>>> blob via a defined protocol. just like any chip anywhere. no less free than
>>> gta02 in that way. BUT yes - you'll pay an extra $200.
>>> nb gta03 - you missed the news from sean's talk at openexpo in switzerland.
>>> gta03 is "postponed" (read cancelled - postponed is just a nice way to say it
>>> and try and keep the community hanging around in hope it un-cancels, as
>>> openmoko has laid off most of their staff (also news from openexpo), their
>>> linux staff. you don't un-postpone if you just let all the people go who work
>>> on the software).
> Thanks for the clarification Steve, Carsten had be worried there for a
> moment. Can I say that I'm using the FR as my Daily Phone and I'm as
> happy as a pig in shit that when I find the time I can write new apps
> and improve existing apps. I think most of the people on these lists
> appreciates the philosophy of Open Source. I for one would love for Open
> Moko to make that philosophy successful in the Hardware arena.
> Regardless of what you produce as Plan B, even if it's a hair
> straightener, I'll buy one. ;-)

  Oh I think Raster's concerns are well placed. I know I have a mailbox 
full of requests from the press to explain what this all means. So I'll
make an official public statement to them probably tomorrow, but it 
won't be different from what I said here, just written better. I'm glad 
to hear you use your FR as a daily phone. Part of my goal is to get more 
people to say that. part of that involves people NOT USING their FR as a 
daily phone, but rather hacking their FR so that others benefit.

Now, I'll talk a little bit about making openness happen in the hardware
arena and explain why I recommended that the GTA03 be euthenized.
In the "mistakes" part of the presentation there are a couple of slides
that relate to hardware. One of them is the simple word "recamping" 
GTA03 went through a series of changes from 2008 all the way up to 2009.
My commentary on this went like so:  "GTA03 has a 1024 bug." Those of you
who have followed the FR are probably aware of the recamping bug or 
1024. For me 1024 was a metaphor for the problems with GTA03. It kept
bouncing from base station to another base station: first aiming to be 
one thing, then another, then yet another. Here is what I have found. It 
is better to pick a path, even a wrong one, and stick to it than it is 
to pick no path. The other slide in "mistakes"  has a picture of GTA02v5
And the title says "gcc GTA02v5  won't work." This was a metaphor for
how we sometimes viewed hardware. I argued that we sometimes viewed 
hardware like it was software; that is,  as something that
could be recompiled, patched, etc.  In the hardware world I came from
we would often slip changes in to shipping product. We called them
"silent phase ins" The transition from a5 to a6, for example, would be
a silent phase in. Nobody would ever know. When we faced the a5 to a6 
transition I suggested a silent phase in. The looks I got told me I must 
be from mars. It's all already open! there is no silent phase in Open 
Hardware. That's a huge challenge.

The GTA03 as a design had a recamping bug. it kept changing. and changes
of course, are perceived as "easy". after all, hardware is just like 
software.. I won't go through all the iterations of GTA03. But it's 
processor changed, the RFs changed, in the end the design had no
Wifi and no GPS. Raise your hand if think that a GTA03 with no wifi
and no GPS is good thing to sell to the community? Raise your hand if
you think it was a mistake to kill this? As I said, there are currently
a couple of lists that are discussing options for a GTA03. Some of them
just want to recamp on a previous version. Joerg and I would probably 
recamp on the GTA04 we defined back in sept of 08. In any case, Very 
shortly I'll open a list on  GTA03 and I'll attempt to make the entire 
product design process, including the business side, open to the 
community. For a long time people the community has been asking for this 
level of involvement. Let me know what you think.

WRT project B. Don't laugh about an open hair straightener. In fact,
one of our goals is to open more than just the phone. If it runs 
software, it should be open. But that's just a goal and not a product 

> Best of luck and keep us informed.
> Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux)
> Comment: Using GnuPG with Mozilla -
> iEYEARECAAYFAknVvHoACgkQXlbjSJ5n4BAmAwCggEMlwYwn44NIK1+1hu9YyZit
> 5pgAoLhLvdecshoZfkYUQ/SKX1pdK6eR

More information about the community mailing list