Not "the free phone"

David "Lefty" Schlesinger lefty at
Mon Jul 16 23:54:38 CEST 2007

Giles Jones wrote:
> Maybe, but then I think all the marketing is academic without the
> software being there and working.
Oh, finally. Thanks, Giles. I'd have to say that "academic" is an
understatement: if you actually sold one to someone who wasn't capable
of building and installing a Linux system on the device, and wasn't
aware that the software was incomplete and unstable, you'd be doing them
a serious disservice if you created the impression that this was a phone
on which they'd be able to rely on a day-to-day basis.

I have no idea who folks are hoping to market this phone to in this
fashion. If you're going after "the open source community", you can
count on selling dozens; maybe even scores. But there's no way that this
device can be marketed to _real_ end-users until the software is in a
substantially more solid state.

On average, folks who buy cell phones are not likely to buy one based on
the notion that one provides more "liberty"--they'll have no idea what
you're talking about, and if you attempt to explain it, they'll _still_
have no idea what you're talking about. In fact, you're going to have to
work harder to sell an unlocked phone to folks (at least in the States,
where such things are pretty rare) at all--it's actually _less_
convenient for them, in that they're going to have to go through a
run-around with some carrier or other to get service.

Even the "Your phone, your way" message is quite misleading. I haven't
attempted to get a naked SIM card from, say, AT&T, but I bet they're not
especially well set-up to handle requests like that. It's even possible
that they might refuse to do it at all: carriers have requirements for
the devices which use their networks, and they might well insist that
you obtain _some_ phone from them to surround your SIM card with.

_Now_ your big marketing challenge becomes explaining to my grandma why
she needs to get a _different_ phone in order to use _this_ phone. All
of this "freedom" talk is both off the mark, as well as beside the
point, in my opinion.

The best thing people can do to make this all a reality is to help out
with the software development, if they're able to.

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