Crowdfunding an Ubuntu smartphone (right now)

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at
Wed Sep 25 09:53:17 CEST 2013

Hi Stefan,

Am 25.09.2013 um 05:01 schrieb Stefan Monnier:

> The main problem I see with such Free and/or Open phone is the "small
> production" syndrome.  Small productions mean high prices and low
> reliability, whereas we need reasonable prices and reliability.

Yes, small production is the key problem.

I don't see reliability as a problem because it depends on what type of reliability
you are thinking of: component, software, hardware, production, or availability.

Each one can also be achieved with small production batches and improves
with experience of the team running such a project.

> So we need to focus on making larger production.  For that, we need to
> widen the target "market".

Yes, this is the core idea behind the Neo900 project - find a new "market"
for an almost existing design and modifying it a little while sharing as many
components as possible.

In essence the Letux 3704 and Letux 7004 projects are no different from that.

>  I'm not sure how best to do that, but
> I think the key is in making products that can be used in more
> situations.
> E.g. the EOMA project comes to mind: a single "SoC card" can potentially
> be used in various devices (tablet, router, NAS, ...).
> If the core part of the hardware could be shared between communities
> such as Openmoko (free phone), Raspberry, etc.. then it'd be easier to
> get that core part produced at reasonable cost, and to have a reasonably
> reliable kernel running on it.

In essence it goes to a modular approach - but "modular" typically drives
cost up (at least for the version having the highest production numbers)
and is in strong contradiction with miniaturization of handheld devices.

And another factor is that producing anything in higher quantities in advance
means that someone is willing to put more money on the table in advance,
not knowing if the product finally sells. I.e. the financial risk goes up.

We all know that there are 10 times as many who would like to have something
different than what is available... And sometimes nobody wants what has been
made available.

Some other thought: it must not be a module that *we* produce (like EOMA)
to get production numbers up.

It would be sufficient to bundle buying power (by summing up # of units
for different projects), so that we get existing modules cheaper. I.e. if all
projects would use let's say an DM3730+Memory, they still can be soldered
into different devices. Or WLAN/BT and UMTS are already coming as
SoC/MCP "modules".

So the trick is to use a bigger shopping bag and make a different meal
out if it every day.


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