community Digest, Vol 204, Issue 8

Ben Thompson ben at
Thu Oct 7 00:04:54 CEST 2010

On Wed, Oct 06, 2010 at 11:59:47PM +0400, Gennady Kupava wrote:
> Hey, Paul, disagree with your idea about impossibility of commercial
> success of opensource device.
> Declaimer: all things below is just my opinion, which is formed mostly
> by reading community ml from time to time in past. It would be
> interesting to read where and why i am wrong. :)
> В Срд, 06/10/2010 в 22:31 +0400, Paul Fertser пишет:
> > openmoko at (Christoph Pulster) writes:
> > > an intelligent marketing idea. My idea on the later is, to point the
> > > finger in the Apple direction and naming the evil by name.
> It already has at least 1 good idea, no other smartphones have - OS and
> hardware separation.
> > On a related note, i think there's no commercial future with such a
> > device.
> > Openmoko proved that. 
> Sorry, but openmoko proved only that it is really possible to make open
> phone.
> > Too few interested people, really too few. 
> Now imagine, linus tovalds wrote linux initially... alone. yeah. it
> wrote it while big DOSes, Solarises, BSDs, MacOSes, mimixes,  already
> existed and were fully functional. Yeah, OS he did lack of all features,
> had no chances to compete with that big giants, it were complete crap.
> Were this 'too much people'?
> > Despite Freerunner still being the only one. 
> Bwware, big portion of critics below: 
> Why freerunner commercially failed (is it truth at all btw?), my
> version:
> 1. People got scarified with tons of grave software bugs (WSOD,
> partition table corruption, sd card speed, graphical subsystem speed,
> overall FR speed, events/0, debug kernel, that just _i_ know). All this
> were fixable, What would happen if all this were fixed in a week after
> FR release?
> 2. People scarified by core openmoko's own _developers_ who declare
> various subsystems are 'outdated' (CPU) or 'wrong' (glamo), and did nice
> PR. And all this were not really true. HW is good enought to do many
> things.
> 3. Community managment may be much better. I am usure if openmoko had
> dedicated guy to spend all time managing community. I saw some mails
> from people who offer help, unanswered. Yes, may be some offers were
> funny, may be 50% of that people will do nothing, but other 50% may
> easily build excellent community and greatly help project. I guess this
> is main cause of 'few people'.
> 4. Team were too small to handle such huge innovative project as
> freerunner (completely new software stack, adapt linux from almost 0 to
> be usable on such multifunctional device) from almost 0 to commercial
> success in reasonable time. One man did qt/x11. Other man did whole
> kernel and bootloader. One more man did testing. Yeahhh. One more whole
> graphical subsystem.
> 5. Tons of hardware bugs on initial release. And knowing that all them
> were fixed... just proves that it were possible to fix that faster, with
> bigger team.
> 6. Openmoko's team fixed problems is complete weird way. They did one
> interface, found it has some problems and instead of fixing problems
> they used qt interface, then instead of fixing problems of qt they
> switched to fso&e17, which i bet, still has problems on it's own.
> Instead of careful calculation why their device is slow and how fast it
> should be, then solved boot speed problem with disabling logs. Instead
> of fixing grave issues they draw fancy boot pictures. Instead of fixing
> u-boot Qi were implemented. (just things _i_ noticed)
> 7. Raster need special mentioning. Being smart and very professional
> man, he thought only about his own project, refusing to optimize latest
> interface for FR, injecting myths about hw slowness (320x200, 16 bit
> graphics, glamo bus speed, etc) and injecting that myths in _smart way_.
> This scarified poor community even more.
> All this bad PR were magnified greatly by openess of project
> (_magnified_), open ML, open communications.
> So, as you can see, not much in this list is related to word 'open' or
> open source at all. And problems with community size are not related to
> word 'open', i can say all this sounds more as problem of small team
> attempting to do huge thing in commercial way.
> And, as a conclusion - as it's possible to evade most of problems in
> list, and do not create others: all depends on people who making
> project, and bit of luck, and i think, it's perfectly possible to do
> nice opensource device.
> One may disagree and say that direct communication between developers
> and customers created varous problems like (2) (man say something in
> public, then should stand to death on his position), but this is only
> small part of question and depends on personalities.
> This mail look like hardcore rant to openmoko and FR, but in fact i
> think that people did great job - now several opensource stacks exist
> and very open phone exist, and community exist. This is great and very
> hacky :)
> > I'd tend to agree
> > with Raster who says "Let's get an open enough consumer device that
> > can be sold to the masses and hack on it".
> Keyword is 'sold to masses'. All other words are not important, you may
> rephrase Raster's idea "Let's do ... device that can be sold to the
> masses ... ". I bet such device will make Raster happy :)
> Gennady.

I am nobody, but would just like to say that Gennady's summary sounds
good to me.


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