Crowdfunding an Ubuntu smartphone

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at
Fri Aug 23 12:36:42 CEST 2013

Am 23.08.2013 um 12:08 schrieb Bob Ham:

> On 2013-08-23 09:38, joerg Reisenweber wrote:
>> On Fri 23 August 2013 10:35:38 Bob Ham wrote:
>>> On 2013-08-23 07:26, openmoko at wrote:
>>> The GTA04 *is* out of production and no longer for sale.
>> Says who?
> Says Golden Delicious:
>  "Note: we currently have no stock since we need to collect at least 200 orders so that we can produce in big enough batches."
> -- First sentence on
>>> > There are no other
>>> > reasons why it isnt available, just damn investment $$ are missing.
>>> If money is the only problem then why is nobody running a fundraising
>>> campaign?  I don't think money is the only problem.
>> I think it's up to you to answer your own question, instead of implicitly
>> accusing highly honored guys like Nikolaus and Christoph of not telling the
>> truth.
> There seems to be a misunderstanding here.  I'm not accusing anybody of hiding problems.  I'm saying that there are problems other than money which are preventing the successful production of a free phone.  Those other problems have been discussed openly on this list and others.

To some extent you are right. There is a problem one would call a "structural problem". Sort of an equation system with 0 solutions.

>> everybody (even you) can start a fundraiser.
> Of course they *can*.  But they're *not*.  That's the point.

We see from this discussion that everybody wants something else, but not what would be easily available.

If 200 people agree to put 599 EUR on the table we could start production tomorrow (well, we need 6-8 weeks to get the components) and 200 GTA04 boards would be available in November.

We could also order 200 3D-printed cases, earpieces etc. to make complete phones. One issue is that we have just ~70 display modules, and they are out of production for a long time. But there may be some remaining stock in Asia, so it appears to be a solvable problem.

Doing a redesign for a different display, different case (N900) is also possible, but takes more time (estimate 4-6 months).

But it also needs 200 * 599 EUR on the table. Not to start design or production (that has become my hobby), but to buy components.

Now back to the "everyone wants something different" issue of the problem:
* people want a different device (N900 keyboard)
* people want an Überphone (Ubuntu Edge)
* people want 100% freedom in WLAN, UMTS modem etc. (discussions on this list)
* people want to have a device more innovative than Apple and Samsung together

And of course - as Christoph points out - cheaper than anything else.

I can completely understand all these wishes. Even that it should be cheaper than everythin else. But having the best at the lowest price is a contradiction in itself.

It can be fulfilled better, the higher the production volume is. It is a basic law of economy that only #1 and #2 producers can get big margins, big enough to stay #1 and #2 by spending a lot of money for innovation. It is a law that nobody can break - like force of gravity... If you want to study this, please ask yourself why you get the high capacity memory chips you would like to see in a GTA0x only from Micron, Samsung these days and nobody else.

At what position are we? We (with this I mean any team formed from the community) are probably #5000 in the smart phone or portable computer business...

From this, I think nobody is doing fundraisers or developing a new GTA0x because they either know and see these economical implications or at least have a good gut feeling that they can only loose money they don't have.

There are unsuccessful campaigns (Ubuntu edge) and successful ones. If you go deeper into successful campaigns, they offer something really new (wrist phones, wrist displays) which the big companies do not even have. So for a short time frame the "early innovator" is #1 (Pebble) and #2 (Meta-Watch). But as soon as Apple and Samsung will enter the game arena, things will change rapidly...

There is only one factor I can see that would change the game: if more people see a real value in supporting what we all would like to see. And supporting by paying more (and not expecting less).

-- hns

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