project customers

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at
Sat Apr 10 10:51:22 CEST 2010

Am 10.04.2010 um 09:56 schrieb Werner Almesberger:

> Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller wrote:
>> We also had many discussions with project customers and basically  
>> they
>> were happy with the device. And would prefer it over any consumer
>> oriented device.
> Are there actually any stories of project customers whose project
> made it past the R&D stage and who deployed a reasonably large
> number of devices, let's say >= 100 ?
> I'm not aware of any, and that's bothering me a little, for it

I am also not aware of any successful large scale project. While the  
Sharp Zaurus did have such projects. The largest real projects with  
Openmokos I have seen were in education (e.g. providing a classroom  
for embedded development training).

> weakens my theory that project customers (I haven't heard this

In business strategy planning it is quite common to separate e.g.  
"consumer", "project", "service", "solution" business types and  
markets because they have quite different requirements and attitudes  
in respect to quality, reliability, speed, loyality, functionality,  
cost, dependencies, legacy, supply markets etc. So one has to serve  
them differently.

> expression before Christoph used it, but I like it very much)
> would be a major market for an Open phone.

At least one visitor during our presence at the SYSTEMS 2008 fair  
expressed he is interested in 60000 units to install special  
encryption software. And, he was looking for an open hardware device  
because he could then 100% prove to his customers (government, police)  
what is inside the device.

> It could be that the combination of long-lived problems and a
> short-lived product or series just left no window for this to
> happen.

Definitively. Such "projects" usually have 2-3 years planning phase  
(from the idea through convincing management, getting a budget,  
selecting suppliers, negotiating prices, finally making a purchase  
order etc.). And then typically 3-5 years deployment where  
replacement, spare parts etc. must remain available and devices must  
remain compatible to any infrastructure that comes with the project.  
So for successful "project business", one must either provide a  
product that is available for 5-7 years or at least a consistent  
roadmap/upgrade plan. This is completely different to a consumer  
market where the buyer just wants the best product available today.  
And then comes back after 2 years and wants to have a new one, most  
likely from a different brand and 100% incompatible.

Look e.g. at settop boxes for cable or IP TV. Although they are  
finally in the hands of consumers, they are deployed through roll-out  
projects by network operators. So the technology of a device must  
match the technology of the network at the time of introduction. Which  
is a constantly "moving target" and makes it a nightmare for the  
product managers working for a settop box supplier :)


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