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No More OpenMoko Phone

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the now-what-will-you-run-debian-on? dept.

Cellphones 219

TuxMobil writes "Bad news for FreeRunner fans: development of the first Open Source smartphone will be discontinued. (English translation via Google) OpenMoko executive director Sean Moss-Pulz said at OpenExpo in Bern (Switzerland) that the number of staffers will be reduced to be able to stay in business. OpenMoko had high intentions: the offspring from Taiwanese electronic manufacturer First International Computer (FIC) wanted to produce an Open Source smartphone. Not only with Open Source software pre-installed, but with free drivers and open specifications of the hardware components. This would give programmers as well as users complete freedom. Up to now the manufacturer has produced two models, the first has sold 3,000 units and the second one 10,000. Both models were targeted primarily to developers. From the beginning, OpenMoko had to fight with different problems. The smartphones came onto the market after a huge delay. Some phones came with construction defects. Also, changes in the team slowed down the development. Software development for the current smartphone will be continued but with fewer resources, Moss-Pultz said. He still hopes the community will support the FreeRunner."

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Of course we will... (3, Insightful)

miknix (1047580) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460789)

That's the point of buying an opensource phone. To use it as our sandbox.

Re:Of course we will... (4, Informative)

theArtificial (613980) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460801)

If sales reflect demand it appears that Joe Public doesn't see the value of an open source smart phone.

Re:Of course we will... (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460837)

I would have bought one but they sold out very quickly. I assume they kept production runs short to reduce risk. But doing that guarantees failure. Lately I have been checking back on openmoko.com from time to time. There is no way to buy the phone on line, and the nearest dealer to me is in India.

Its not like they made millions of the things and couldn't sell them.

Re:Of course we will... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461293)

Well, the price is lowered to $300 currently
I'm not sure if the price will go back up or not, because there's a good chance the current stock can have the buzz noise during phone calls issue for some phones -- if you get that problem you need to find someone to do the hardware fix.
http://us.direct.openmoko.com/products/neo-freerunner [openmoko.com]

Re:Of course we will... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461591)

Why cant you order one from France, Germany, Belgium, UK, Sweden or any other place?

all it takes, visit a webshop of any of those dealers mentioned on openmoko.com. After that you play the waiting game with post office, like I did.

Re:Of course we will... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27460851)

The problem was that the phone had some real glaring problems that were never resolved. Such as a one day battery life. And the inability to charge the phone after the battery wore out completely.

I was going to be first in line to buy one when the power management problems were sorted out. But years later... they were still there. I'm really saddened that the phone never truly got the support it needed to succeed.

So where does that leave us for free phones?

Re:Of course we will... (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460921)

The problem was that the phone had some real glaring problems that were never resolved. Such as a one day battery life. And the inability to charge the phone after the battery wore out completely.

I was going to be first in line to buy one when the power management problems were sorted out. But years later... they were still there. I'm really saddened that the phone never truly got the support it needed to succeed.

So where does that leave us for free phones?

Makes me wonder how many good ideas are ruined by poor implementation. I'm betting this is a very large number. The problem is that people throw out the baby with the bathwater and so they might conclude that open-source phones are inherently a bad idea, instead of concluding that this group failed to design/produce them correctly.

Re:Of course we will... (3, Insightful)

theArtificial (613980) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460977)

Even if an idea is tainted by poor implementation it provides something for future revisions to improve upon. If there is demand a healthy market will cater to it.

You'd be betting correctly (4, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460981)

"Ideas" are worthless. Everybody has good ideas. It is actually implementing the idea that is the hard part.

In other words, the money (and the devil) is in the details.

so they might conclude that open-source phones are inherently a bad idea

I've not really followed this project, but aren't the design documents public? If so, some other company could pick this up and run with it, no?

Re:You'd be betting correctly (2, Interesting)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461045)

Thats what I heard, however said other company would need to spend some considerable effort and money in addressing some serious hardware design flaws as well as what is now nearly obsoleted network support before the phone is once again viable as a phone.

Re:You'd be betting correctly (1)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461061)

"Ideas" are worthless. Everybody has good ideas. It is actually implementing the idea that is the hard part.

And every method by which anything would be implemented began as ... wait for it ... an idea. If you do not see the simplicity of that, it is because you don't want to. I'm not trying to be rude but "ideas are worthless" is a very strong claim and while it can be asserted, I do not believe it can be supported. A single idea that produced even the slightest worth for even one person would be enough to refute that position.

I've not really followed this project, but aren't the design documents public? If so, some other company could pick this up and run with it, no?

I was referring to their willingness to do so. It takes money to do that and no one wants to invest money into an operation that fails. That willingness won't be present if they believe that the same thing will happen to them, which is essentially a rephrasing of my previous post.

Re:You'd be betting correctly (4, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461099)

If you do not see the simplicity of that, it is because you don't want to

No, everything begins as an "idea", that part is obvious. But ideas in and of themselves are worthless until you implement them.

It takes money to do that and no one wants to invest money into an operation that fails.

There are a lot of great ideas that never get implemented because it turns out the implementation is too hard to make it worthwhile. For example, I think it would be a great idea if you could have a lawn-mower sharing service. A neighborhood could share one lawnmower and not have to all buy their own. Since you dont usually use it more than once or twice a month, it would be a great idea, right? Well, I doubt you could ever successfully implement it.

By the way, in most cases, a good test of your idea is if others are doing similar things as you. If you are trying to create a business or product and nobody else is doing anything even close, odds are pretty good something is wrong with your idea. Not always, but usually...

Re:You'd be betting correctly (2, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461205)

No, everything begins as an "idea", that part is obvious. But ideas in and of themselves are worthless until you implement them.

I can agree to that on the condition that we are speaking of "worth" in strictly materialistic or pragmatic terms. That is, however, an artificially narrow concept. Look at most forms of art and the ideas found there, or at philosophers who truly enjoy exploring the mysteries of life. Look at the idea of freedom and how very inconvenient and costly it can be, yet so utterly worthwhile. Those are ideas that are valuable to the people who entertain them that don't need to be implemented as any product or service in order to have that value.

There are a lot of great ideas that never get implemented because it turns out the implementation is too hard to make it worthwhile. For example, I think it would be a great idea if you could have a lawn-mower sharing service. A neighborhood could share one lawnmower and not have to all buy their own. Since you dont usually use it more than once or twice a month, it would be a great idea, right? Well, I doubt you could ever successfully implement it.

True, though you can find that idea to be unsound before you prove this by trying to implement it and failing. For neighbors to pool any resource and share equally with one another, they first have to actually treat each other as neighbors and not as strangers who happen to live nearby (as is so common today). Otherwise this becomes open to all sorts of problems and abuse. That can be known before anything is tried.

The idea of an Open Source phone is not inherently unsound. This failure was strictly in terms of implementation. That is, things like delays and manufacturing defects are what prevented its realization, not the fact that it was to be Open Source. That's a significant difference and I feel that this difference may go unappreciated. Thus, people throw out the baby with the bathwater and may write off the idea entirely, especially when money they intend to invest is at stake.

Re:You'd be betting correctly (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461339)

I'm using "value" in economic terms, not monetary terms. When economists talk about value, reward and gain, they aren't just talking about cash in your pocket. You can produce value in society and *not* get money.

You can be rewarded for your work without getting money. People who do volunteer do it because they are getting a different kind of reward... they feel good about themselves. The technical term for this is "psychic income [unc.edu] ". Your artists and philosophers wouldn't do what they did unless they enjoyed it--that enjoyment is enough of a reward for them that they continue.

I'm trying to think of some examples of artists with great ideas who fail to implement them. I think there are probably scientists with great ideas that never produce value because they never implement their idea.

I'll give this a shot: If I was an artist, I think it would be a great idea to fly a airplane over the city and draw shapes using colored smoke. I have this great idea of doing something with the water too--like turn it into colored jello or something. Great idea... but I'll never implement it.

Re:You'd be betting correctly (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461255)

would be a great idea, right? Well, I doubt you could ever successfully implement it.

Do not doubt, this idea had been successfully implemented many years ago, and even a movie was made [imdb.com] that pictures a quick demo of this technology (among other things.) The trick to the successful implementation is in borrowing the lawnmower together with its operator; the rest is the same, just as you described :-)

If you are trying to create a business or product and nobody else is doing anything even close, odds are pretty good something is wrong with your idea.

Or everything is right with your idea and you are about to become filthy rich. The sad story is that if you do what other people also do you can make a living, but you can't make it big. You always have to do something special, something that other people haven't done, to be really successful.

Re:You'd be betting correctly (3, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461427)

The sad story is that if you do what other people also do you can make a living, but you can't make it big.

Flickr did what everybody else was doing--they created a photo album on the internet. Only they learned what all the other ones were doing wrong and made it better.

Very little is a wholly unique, novel idea. 98% of everything out there is a refinement of what everybody else is doing.

There is a technical term for things that are unique--disruptive technologies. And creating a successful plan to implement said ideas are far harder than usually. A lot of people with really good disruptive tech. fail to create an implementation that lets them succeed. See also: Crossing the Chasm [amazon.com] .

Re:You'd be betting correctly (0, Troll)

LuYu (519260) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461335)

By the way, in most cases, a good test of your idea is if others are doing similar things as you. If you are trying to create a business or product and nobody else is doing anything even close, odds are pretty good something is wrong with your idea.

[sarcasm]
You are absolutely right. We should all copy Symbian. Phone innovation is absolutely worthless. Why would anybody buy a phone that was different? The iPhone was obviously popular because it was just like all other phones available in the US at that time.
[/sarcasm]

Copying what is out there just leads to cheap knock-offs. Technology and even art only progress through the appearance of new ideas, and in the mobile phone arena, new ideas are desperately needed. The cellphone OS industry is stagnating, and the iPhone has begun to drive it in the wrong direction, and Android is proving to be as locked up -- or nearly so -- as the iPhone (not that Apple ever cared about user Freedom or "Think[ing] Different[ly]").

OpenMoko's problems mean that there will once again be no alternative to secretive, closed handset manufacturers. This is a sad day for Freedom.

Re:You'd be betting correctly (2, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461385)

I said "similar". Not duplicate.

Wouldn't you be rather concerned if you were gonna try starting your hypothetical lawn-mower service and couldn't find a single example of anybody doing anything even remotely similar? I know I would be!

That said, pretty much everything in existence is a refinement of the stuff before it. Most TV shows are refinements of older ones--Family Guy was influenced by Simpsons. Aqua Teen Hunger Force was influenced by Family Guy and Simpsons (and Robot Chicken).

Beck influenced a ton of people out there. Beck himself has a strong resemblance to folk music.

Digg was a derivative of Slashdot. Slashdot was a derivative of the BBS.

Re:You'd be betting correctly (2, Funny)

redcircle (796312) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461713)

But ideas in and of themselves are worthless until you implement them.

I think what you meant to say was:
"But ideas in and of themselves are worthless until you patent them and sell them to patent trolls"

neighborhood lawn mower (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461749)

you know, that used to exist, with a twist. Back in the day (talking about me now, and a million other kids back then), local teenagers would scrape up the cash for a lawnmower, then mow several yards in the neighborhood as a way to make some cash (then rake leaves in the fall, shovel driveways in the winter, etc). The price was reasonable, the homeowners got time to themselves, and didn't need to own a mower.

Now, about the only people who do that are professional lawn care people, they charge a lot more to mow because as adults they need-to-make-a-real-living-rate, not just a few bucks a yard (I will date myself, two bucks to mow an average suburban yard back then, now it is probably 50 bucks or something like that***) so for a lot of people it is actually cheaper now to just mow their own lawns, especially as they can sit down while they do it. And those robot lawnmowers are hitting the turf now, soon to be as common as roombas.

*** Ha! A LONG time later, I am still mowing! HAHAHAH! Spring, summer,fall that is my primary job on this farm, doing all the extensive mowing, most of it anyway. I brush hog, boom mower mow, rotary mow for haying, and do finish mowing. A lot of all of the above. If you want an idea of what a good quality industrial finish mower costs, like you would use around your yard, the one I use the most lately was 15 grand....*used*. So ya, if a neighborhood would pop for something like that, a quality diesel powered mower that would last and knock the yards out, it would be doable and make sense to share, but for 200 bucks for a decent push mower for smaller yards or a grand or so for a regular gasser cheap riding mower, as opposed to popping 50 bucks or more for a lawn service..most folks just do it themselves. kids who mow yards for cheap are rare nowadays I think. Although, perhaps with the economy tanking, such regular necessary but drudge work might make a comeback at lower rates (like I think a whole lotta other jobs will make a comeback but at much lower rates-that is in the mysterious future though..).

Anyway, openmoko is a great idea...for netbooks now. Easier/cheaper hardware selection and so on. IMO of course. An open netbook thing that could be upgraded easily every few years without dumping the whole thing, just a mobo swap and so on, would be spiffy. As would normal sized laptops, some open standard thing for those as well. Desktops and servers are covered, you can build your own cheap, but not netbooks or laptops or PDAs/Smartphones. I think it makes more sense now to concentrate on netbooks, they apparently fill a real decent niche for people and are popular. OLPC had a "great idea" and just ran it into the ground with exceptions and not selling the things outright and so on, all it took was someone else to actually sell the things and the "great idea" took off, it hit the price/features/coolness factor all at the same time. Plus professional marketing as opposed to Negropontes wanking it around and not "getting it" on the general public enthusiasm he ignored. "yes, you can buy one at double price or one million of them if you are a government".

epic dumbness there

Totally possible and not hard to implement (1)

GoodNicksAreTaken (1140859) | more than 5 years ago | (#27462015)

I know I'm replying to something completely off topic (and I have mod points!) but Portland, OR, US has been doing lawn mower sharing for awhile. http://www.northportlandtoollibrary.org/ [northportl...ibrary.org]

When there's an interest in an area it's also not that difficult to put together a share group for more obscure tools like CNC machines and lasers. http://www.portlandtechshop.com/ [portlandtechshop.com]

Re:You'd be betting correctly (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461517)

I agree. I had an Erickson phone and it was...a phone. It barely had a list of phone numbers with names. It is a large brick and I have used it as one with no ill effect...to the phone. I finally killed it after six years of abuse by dropping it in water then disassembling it and losing the elastomer conductor that joined the microphone to the board. I've hated every 'phone' I've had since.

I want a phone. I want one with 30 days battery life. I want it to ... make phone calls. I now need the list of names with numbers but give me more than 20 characters so I can add hints as to who they are. It can have a character based LED or LCD 'screen'.

Re:You'd be betting correctly (2, Insightful)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461771)

I wonder how hard it is to do a small-qty purchase of a cell-phone module. Just the bits that make phone calls and send/receive audio, over serial or whatever. Possibly also the simcard stuff, if that is necessary to be done by the radio hardware instead of software.

Bring your own computing device(say a gumstix), display, and power.

I'm sure that probably violates some FCC rules, so I haven't really tried to source one.

Re:Of course we will... (2, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461879)

Makes me wonder how many good ideas are ruined by poor implementation.

You just described the history of computing.

Re:Of course we will... (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461009)

Same here.

I would have bought it, if not for that. A phone with about a day worth of battery, which can't be charged if it discharges completely is unacceptable. Especially for a very experimental product made to be tinkered with.

Re:Of course we will... (1)

LuYu (519260) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461365)

I read about the discharging thing on the website, but with my FreeRunner, I have not experienced this problem. Perhaps this is due to the fact that batteries recover their charge a little after some time (maybe an hour). After completely discharging the phone, I have always been able to charge it again by the time I got within range of an outlet.

Re:Of course we will... (2, Informative)

erko (806441) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461159)

The battery is fine. The iphone only lasts 5 hours when running something, the openmoko developers version I have lasts 4 hours without suspending. If you suspend it when not in use (hit the power button), it can last a long time. Here's a log where the phone was mainly listening for calls with 70 hours standby time: http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/StandbyLifetime [openmoko.org]

There are certainly issues, but battery life isn't the main one. Actual issues include:
- some phones/networks experience a buzzing noise on phone calls that requires a hardware fix. One of these days the fix will be in the newly sold phones.
- It's not clear for new users which software stack to load. (i.e. FSO is good for stable phone use)

Re:Of course we will... (1)

Warbothong (905464) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461465)

The battery is fine. The iphone only lasts 5 hours when running something, the openmoko developers version I have lasts 4 hours without suspending. If you suspend it when not in use (hit the power button), it can last a long time. Here's a log where the phone was mainly listening for calls with 70 hours standby time:
http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/StandbyLifetime [openmoko.org]

There are certainly issues, but battery life isn't the main one.

I'm sorry but I have to only partially agree. Yes, the battery life is OK, but actually putting the phone in suspend is a very dangerous thing to do. Coming out of suspend my FreeRunner gives a "white screen of death" at least 3/4 of the time. This requires a reboot to get out of (which isn't good if the phone came out of suspend due to an incoming call!). Turn off suspend and it gets 4-6 hours battery.

I hear that it's been fixed very recently in a kernel update, but haven't reflashed it yet.

As far as the choice of OS, I'd say that's a non-issue. The point of a Free phone is to make things competitive and work in the users' favour. Choice is a manifestation of that. To make an awful car analogy, it's good that there's more than one model available from more than one manufacturer. The problem, in OpenMoko's case, is that the default is a discontinued electric rollerskate, which forces those users who are usually content with defaults to choose something else.

Re:Of course we will... (1)

erko (806441) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461597)

Ah ok. Sorry, I never really had the wsod problem. For me, the good thing is that the longer I have this phone the better it gets (as software is released and bugs are fixed), but this is only good if the phone basics are always working. I'm guessing the wsod problem sucks, but hopefully you'll be able to use it as a phone now if you want. Also, irc and the mailing lists are pretty helpful if you want to figure out which version works for others.

Re:Of course we will... (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461173)

whats the battery life on an iphone though?
according to Google somewhere between 12 and 36 hours (apple ofc claim 300?), so id guess that smart phones have a limited battery life anyway.

Re:Of course we will... (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461303)

Actually, the one day life was remedied to some extent, through better software suspend. But your general point holds, there are hardware and software problems that never went away.

Re:Of course we will... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461913)

Allow me to go offtopic for a bit.

I'm not modding posts on this story since I don't know crap about OpenMoko.

I regularly receive more mod points than I can use. But whenever I see AC posts, I tend to dismiss them. With so many AC trolls, I mentally group you all together.

The quality of many AC posts has really gone up over the last few months. Please create accounts and log in.

Re:Of course we will... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#27462027)

hmmm... sounds familiar.

My G1 has about a one day battery life. I work around that fine now, but it was scary at first.

And I have a Toshiba Gigabeat S60. If the battery runs down, you need the clunky AC charger to revive it, though I haven't bothered to wire up a USB-coax adapter to see if that would make me AC-independent. For those of you who don't have an S60, one way to run the battery down is to leave it out of 'hold' mode and put it in your laptop case. It dies overnight. Lock it, and it lives for a few days. I don't get it, it's all I can frakking do to turn the thing on when it's in my armband, but somehow out of hold it dies fast. I can't recommend the S60 for that reason alone.

But I would have bought an OpenMoko phone if they brought it out to production. Look, I bought a G1. I'll buy almost anything that isn't from Apple...

Oops, forgot about Siemens. No phones from Siemens. The S46 was enough.

Re:Of course we will... (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27462105)

The problem was that the phone had some real glaring problems that were never resolved. Such as a one day battery life. And the inability to charge the phone after the battery wore out completely.

So I don't know much about openmoko, but you're saying that if you let the battery go to 0% that would brick the phone?

You'd think someone would have caught that in testing...

Re:Of course we will... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27460907)

If sales reflect demand it appears that Joe Public doesn't see the value of an open source smart phone.

Since when did Joe Public ever do a good job of looking after his own interests? "Freedom? Who needs that? Ooh, look, something shiny and new!" People like this cannot possibly sustain an open, non-dictatorial government for the same reason they cannot sustain an Open Source phone. I know those two things may seem unrelated but if you understand one, you understand the other, for the principle in question is quite scalable.

Re:Of course we will... (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461525)

Ironic because they were exercising their freedoms. They, under their own free will, examined all the mobile phone options, and freely choose *not* to buy an OpenMoko phone.

Since when did Joe Public ever do a good job of looking after his own interests?

Everybody has their own pet-interests. There are groups of people bitching about how Joe Public doesn't seem to care much about religion and use it as a sign that everybody but them sucks. Others wonder why everybody still uses Animal products--and uses said finding as "proof" that everybody sucks but them.

Freedom? Who needs that? Ooh, look, something shiny and new!

Jesus? Who needs that? Oh look! Moneys becoming humans! How novel!!

(ps: no offense to the religious.. just makin' an example)

Re:Of course we will... (1)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461239)

If sales reflect demand it appears that Joe Public doesn't see the value of an open source smart phone.

Problem was ... there was never really anything that the public would have been interested in. All the devices sold were clearly marked as "not consumer ready" and missed tons of standard features to survive in the phone market. Of course people don't see the value in an open source smart phone because there is none, never was. That device was a developer toy and unfortunately never left that stage.

Re:Of course we will... (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461183)

who will, developers tend to scratch their itches, if they don't have the phone, and my guess is very few do, how can they develop for it.

Ah nuts.. (1)

cjjjer (530715) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460797)

Didn't see that coming.....

Anyone surprised by this? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27460835)

The smartphones came onto the market after a huge delay. Some phones came with construction defects

An open source product riddled with defects? YOU DON'T SAY!! LOL

Also, changes in the team slowed down the development

An open source project delayed by constant in-fighting and turnover within the loosely knit, egotistical (e.g. Daniel J Bernstein) elitists? YOU DON'T SAY

Software development for the current smartphone will be continued but with fewer resources, Moss-Pultz said

An open source project limping along after the fanboys pack up and move on to whatever the current fad of the day (e.g., Ajax) is...leaving behind a product that has a fraction of the features enterprise users need, with just a "promise" that those features will be implemented "someday", YOU DON'T SAY!

He still hopes the community will support the FreeRunner."

Not if they can find a way to steal the product instead

open source (-1, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460867)

but wait - i thought open source was awesome and couldn't fail?!

Re:open source (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460877)

Do you have something productive to contribute?

Re:open source (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27460933)

The GP has a valid point. Sure, OpenMoko dying is sad. But to people writing open source software who *also want their software to be used by people*, there are important lessons here. Listen to users. Prioritize so that basic functionality (oh, I dunno, battery life) is working before getting carried away with GUIs, etc. Aim at a user community which is not just developers from day one if you want a product that non-developers can later use. Too many projects act as if being open-source is the most important thing that matters for success, and this just leads to wasted effort within the community.

Re:open source (2, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461801)

There is nothing wrong with initially aiming for developers. In fact, I'd say if you are a startup company doing anything tech, targeting developers is a great way to get started. You want your product to generate buzz with blogging nerds like that Schobel guy (aka tech evangelists). It would be a huge mistake to try to cast your net to large and target "everybody". Gotta start somewhere, and nerds, even a specific type of nerd, is a safe bet.

Remember how many bloggers were hyping the Razr when it came out? Flickr targeted developers by offering an API. Google got its roots targeting nerds. Digg, same thing. Hell, Firefox was able to start by marketing to nerds like us and the buzz we generated pushed it into the mainstream. If you can't sell your warez to developers and nerds, you'll never sell it with the public at large.

The bit that kills you is if you don't realize that the developer crowd is a small part of market and you are only using them to gain enough street cred to expand into larger market segments. Sure, you can avoid "selling out", but if you want to be truly successful, you gotta cross that chasm and move into the meaty part of the bell curve.

That said, I don't know if OpenMoko failed because they didn't successfully cross the chasm, or because they weren't able to successfully sell to nerds at all. Or probably something completely different.

Re:open source (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461975)

OpenMoko failed because it was a phone that couldn't make or receive phone calls reliably, and when you did connect to someone they were often inaudible because of a hardware flaw that created a loud buzzing noise. Also, its core technologies were years behind the cutting edge (barely-functioning 2G in a world where 3.5G is giving way to 4G). No mystery here. It failed because it was a terrible, terrible phone.

Open Source's inability to deliver any sort of consumer-level device that isn't an expensive, misfunctioning joke should be a source of considerable concern to anybody who cares about the future of FOSS.

Re:open source (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27462063)

Open Source's inability to deliver any sort of consumer-level device that isn't an expensive

Firefox. While not a physical device, is probably the most successful open source project out there. Why? Because of a few things:

Broadly put:
1) The only real browser on the market sucked. They realized this and created a product that removed the pain normal people had.
2) They shipped a high quality, good looking product that worked out of the box.

Specifically:
1) You could install their software with a real installer that installed *everything* required to run.
2) They did not focus on the fact it was open source. I would imagine only 5% of the people using Firefox even realize you can get the source. In fact, they hide it so well I don't even know where to go to browse the source code.
3) They had a professional looking logo and fairly professional appearance.
3) It runs on Windows as a native program.

I'd list more, but i have to make dressing...

Re:open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27462001)

Do you have something productive to contribute?

As opposed to your insightful comment? Pull the stick out of your ass.

Re:open source (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460905)

Having open source does not alone make a product awesome. However, one thing having open source does is make it so, even if the product fails, the knowledge put into making that product is not lost. And that's pretty awesome.

Re:open source (3, Insightful)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461543)

Wake up dude. It is easier to rewrite, than to read code.

I don't know much of OMoko. But from what I see from the mess they made, never actually getting the thing to work as a phone. I don't expect much of their code to be on a level of maturity that would grant the time investment to get acquainted to it.

My honest guess, as developer, is that the code produced by these guys that did not get merged into other active projects will just die.

Re:open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27462005)

1) its my daily phone (im running shr-unstable distro)
2) i can make any mods i like (well, im not the only one)
3) its my primary gps (with multiple software)
4) its open. (read it again)
5) look at point #4

Re:open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27462035)

What product?

Re:open source (5, Interesting)

miknix (1047580) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461075)

I bought a Qtek 9100 (aka HTC wizard) some years ago (~4~5). It came flashed with wm5.

Guess what? Qtek is killed, the official firmware updates went from a very reduced quantity to null.
So, right now - Zero support.

Fortunately there are groups of people constantly cooking their own ROMs with updated stuff.
www.xda-developers.com
Although, rom cookers have a hard time looking for a way to flash these phones that are usually locked down.

For those looking to have Linux on their phone, (I found http://linwizard.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] for the HTC wizard and I'm part of the development team for a long time now) the task is even worse, there is absolutely no documentation about the hardware.

My point is that with opensource hardware, if the vendor dies, "supporting" the device by the community is much easier.

Re:open source (1)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461171)

but wait - i thought open source was awesome and couldn't fail?!

It's too big to fail.

Re:open source (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461813)

It's too big to fail.

Does that mean when we bail them out, we ask RMS to step down as head of Open Source?

Re:open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27462127)

RMS

head of Open Source

facepalm.jpg

OpenMoko (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460929)

Only has the older, slower 2G technology, doesn't have 3G.

No wonder it doesn't sell very many.

They're targetting developers, and developers are the audience most likely to be concerned about the speed.

Sure, being open source is very very cool, but it's not everything.

It helps if the open source product actually is a little less-expensive than the closed source one.

It helps even more if it has the same essential features like performance.

How many people would be using Linux on their desktop if it only suppord 10megabit network cards, and no FastEthernet and GigabitEthernet NICs?

Re:OpenMoko (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461021)

If you access computers on a LAN, you want a fast ethernet card, otherwise, your ISP is the only bottleneck.

Re:OpenMoko (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461681)

Ethernet is limited to less than 10m, and half duplex, meaning speeds are reduced even farther..

It is very common to have ISP speeds beyond the capabilities of Ethernet, it has been common for several years to have a 10 meg or greater connection speed.

Also, LAN speed is definitely important to users, especially developers.

In any case, this isn't about Ethernet/Fastethernet, this is about 2G vs 3G.

2G data services are slow and horrible.

3G data services are still pretty slow, but a little faster, and quite a bit faster enough to make many smartphone functions (like web browsing) a lot more convenient.

Until Open Source phone software can support the speed improvements, it may have great difficulty being accepted even by the developers who WANT to use it... they just can't

Or they may find themselves having to get the OpenMoko for apps, and a different kind of phone for data activities like web browsing (which people don't want to do).

Re:OpenMoko (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461951)

Wow, I had to read your post like 3 times before I realized you were actually making the distinction between "Fast Ethernet" and "Ethernet". I mean, yeah, technically Ethernet is 10mbit, but I'm pretty sure the person meant "your ISP is the bottleneck, not your LAN".

I'd amend his post only to say these days gigabit ethernet is about as cheap as 100mbit used to be and these days you might as well go with it. 100mbit is awfully slow when your files are 4 gigs each.

Re:OpenMoko (2, Interesting)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461027)

Only has the older, slower 2G technology, doesn't have 3G.

... and with AT&T poised to roll out 4G already and rumors of already crappy service using the OpenMoko on AT&T networks before that it seemed doomed from the start. Personally I would have bought one anyway if it wasn't for the forum posts I read suggesting that the phone boots Debian great and runs anything in the ARM port but had such abysmal audio quality you could barely actually use it for a phone. Basic functionality was clearly a neglected priority. :(

What a fucking surprise (5, Informative)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460931)

As a pissed off Freerunner owner I have this to say -

OM has been badly managed for some time now. Rather than concentrate on getting basic functionality going they wasted time and money doing things over and over and over again. They must have reinvented the wheel at least three times by now.

No disrespect to the developers, but OM the company was a failure. In what they did and in how they failed to communicate properly with their community, ultimately ensuring there wasn't much of one.

The only hope I have for getting a useful device out of the freerunner now is the (independant of OM) Android port.

Android vs OM - Grown Ups vs Kiddies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461097)

Android
-------
Free and open BSD style license
Being adopted by every major phone manufacturer - LG,Samsung,Sony Ericsson,etc...
Being readied by PC OEMs like HP and others for netbooks
Developed by and supported by grown ups who get up every day, go to work, and get shit done

OM
-------
Viral GPL license
Dead
Developed by the usual open source/GPL kiddies spouting big promises and total botched execution

Total. Fucking. Surprise.

Re:Android vs OM - Grown Ups vs Kiddies (1)

SLi (132609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461169)

How free is Android? I somehow was under the impression that it has closed parts. But perhaps I'm just confusing this issue with the locked-down phone issue (which, while arguably obnoxious, can be circumvented by making your own phone).

But yes, I must say that to me too Android seems much more promising merely because it has a stable company like Google behind it and other commercial adopters. Hope there will be an effort to develop a truly free and open hardware for it (although personally I would be quite happy with (and pay a premium for) proprietary hardware with open specs so that a totally unlocked and free installation of Android is possible).

Re:Android vs OM - Grown Ups vs Kiddies (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461237)

People have grabbed the Android source from Google and had Android running on pretty much every device that is physically possible for it to run on.

And OEMs like HP are apparently just grabbing the source themselves and trying it out on their upcoming netbooks.

Can't really be any more free than that.

Re:Android vs OM - Grown Ups vs Kiddies (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461207)

Android
- no tethering -- tethering apps removed from the app store.
- developer phones can't install apps from the app store (have they changed this policy yet?)

OM
- tethering works fine (albeit with slow GPRS)
- write and install any app

Sorry, Android isn't open.

Re:Android vs OM - Grown Ups vs Kiddies (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461289)

Android on the Freerunner can be as open as the people writing the port want to make it.

Re:Android vs OM - Grown Ups vs Kiddies (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461351)

No, I'm sorry, but now you can just fuck off too.

The "GPL is viral" meme was lame ten years ago, the fact that you still spout it now is basically proof of mental deficiency.

OM was developed by a company full of people that also get up and go to work every day.

It was managed badly. That has nothing to do with the license. Grow up.

GPL == Epic Fail (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461923)

Gotta love the pathetic excuses from piece of garbage GNU losers like you every time another one of these looney GPL fiascos takes a dirtnap.

Android and its free and open license is behind rapidly adopted by massive numbers companies and consumers are soon to have a massive number of devices capable of and in many cases explicitly designed for the completely open and license free Android platform.

Apple comes out with a free and open BSD licensed OS, OS X, and blows the incompetent GPL Linux retards out of market for desktop unix.

Google come out with a free and open BSD licensed OS, Android, and blow the incompetent GPL OpenMoko retards out of the market for mobile phones.

Got that you miserable piece of shit?

Now shut the fuck up.

Re:What a fucking surprise (2, Insightful)

Warbothong (905464) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461281)

I agree. The OS bundled with the phone (Om.2007) has been obsolete since at least September (when I got mine), yet the official successor (Om.2008) hasn't really come out of testing yet.

I've currently got Android on mine and Qt Extended on the MicroSD card. As far as I'm concerned the official software should've been abandoned long ago, but (ironically for a Free phone) they were too reluctant to give up control.

Om.2008's a nice system to play with, but all of the bits that actually make it a phone (dialer, contacts, calendar, SMS, etc.) are taken from Qtopia/Qt Extended, all OpenMoko have done is add an Enlightenment-based menu and some meagre repositories.

If development effort was spent making Qt more awesome on the FreeRunner, rather than competing with it, then in the worst case there would be a default OS better than anything OpenMoko have shipped (Qt), and in the best case there would be an awesome OS (Qt + OpenMoko developer effort). With the path chosen, however, it's ended up with both projects shutting down (although in Qt's case it's more likely due to its new ownership by Nokia, who are working on freeing Symbian).

The inertia OpenMoko put behind the project will be missed, but from my own perspective their part is over, since I've got the hardware. Hopefully in time someone else will step up to provide hardware to other people.

Software-wise I'm putting my bets on Debian for a hacker-friendly system and Android for a smartphone. I'm fluent enough in Debian packaging and Java that I should be able to help the community in taking the masses of hard work from these projects and adding the little nudges that keep them from falling off the FreeRunner platform for at least a while. The problem is that this is precisely what OpenMoko should have been doing (replace Android with Qt).

I would shrug this off as the market working, but in this case I'd like to think of it as the market disliking bad management rather than the market disliking (what I see as) awesome technology. It's like the Amiga all over again :(

Re:What a fucking surprise (2, Interesting)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461331)

You know what would be really great?

Well in my head anyway - android as a set of packages for debian, all on OM.

Re:What a fucking surprise (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461403)

You forgot one more important thing that openmoko heavily contributed to, that otherwise would not be done. The *kernel.* None of the stacks would be around if they didn't devote resources to kernel development. An argument can be made that maybe they should have switched focus to low-level only sooner (the management issue), but at the time there were very few stacks.

Re:What a fucking surprise (2, Informative)

erko (806441) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461803)

Software-wise, I'm putting my bets on the FSO (freesmartphone.org) framework and distributions that use it. This includes FSO's testing distro, SHR, debian, and what was going to be Om.2009 with paroli.

Om.2008 was never intended to be a long term solution. For me, Android has fewer programming language options and more hoops to jump through if I just want to write programs for my phone.

I agree with you that openmoko management should have focused more on a single phone stack instead of restarting too many times, but I disagree with your choices -- not Qt, just a standard phone API (like FSO), and X11 to allow flexibility for developers--which is what they where doing, but it seems like they may have underestimated the difficulty involved in creating a robust working phone.
Also, you seem to imply openmoko is not selling the hardware anymore -- they are still selling phones, but are postponing work on the next phone -- we'll have to see if they're able to develop new phones again later.

Re:What a fucking surprise (1)

Nuno Sa (1095047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27462121)

That's what I think too.
I have the GTA01 (aka Neo 1973). They NEVER released a kernel with proper power management. They wasted time with toolkits and such and forgot the basics.

Later they released the GTA02 (aka Freerunner) and I thought about buying it, but after seeing that they STILL had problems waking up from low-power-state when receiving a call I just gave up.

Now my GTA01 is kind of useless as a phone because they only develop for the new toy (GTA02).

Two lessons:
- Start from the beginning and get the basics right (proper kernel with power management is not too much to ask, right?)

- Don't abandon early adopters (some thousand users have the GTA01 and they don't even release an updated SDK. That's just making users angry).

I'll just continue to use mine with debian and as a PDA, not a phone. I won't even look their way until they start beeing more "UNIX" (do small parts that do their job well) and do that for a long time!

Not total abandonment (5, Informative)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460949)

If you RTPT (read the poor translation) they are laying off some employees and putting the ones that are left to work on a different electronic device (it didn't say what) that has been under development. They will continue to sell the freerunner and that they eventually want to return to mobile phone development. They hope that independent developers will continue to work on the phone in the meantime.

Re:Not total abandonment (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27460999)

Which might have been more of a possibility if they'd effectively built a community rather than failing to communicate very well.

It would also be easier if they'd got the basics (reliable kernel, GSM firmware, graphics acceleration) going rather than making eye candy, abandoning it, making more, abandoning it again...

Re:Not total abandonment (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27462103)

The article mention of First International Computer was a tipoff that I really wasn't going to miss it - I've heard about enough problems with an FIC product and had heard enough independent confirmation to steer clear.

Re:Not total abandonment (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27462117)

I meant to say:

The article mention of First International Computer was a tipoff that I really wasn't going to miss it - I've had enough problems with an FIC product and had heard enough independent confirmation to steer clear.

My mistake.

Still working on it = No more? (2, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461017)

How is "downsizing" the equivallent of "no more"?

Een-gleesh?

Not even 101. Maybe 50.5. Maybe even 25.25. If worse comes to worst 12.625 (See Dick run. Run Dick run!)

Android is the Open Source replacement (4, Insightful)

cliffjumper222 (229876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461055)

With the advent of Android on Linux, OpenMoko can safely retire. There will be a flood of Android hardware out soon in addition to the G1 and at least some of it will be hackable or open enough for developers to delve into the stack if they want. For example, you'll be able to improve the hardware drivers, add functionality left out by the original makers because they feared patent infringement, and take advantage of hardware acceleration that didn't make it into the shipping product. Perhaps the only sacrosanct portion kept off limits will be the radio stack itself, which if hacked could invalidate the CE mark, FCC, GCF, PTCRB, etc.
 

Re:Android is the Open Source replacement (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461249)

The problem is that Android is better described as a vague derivative of Linux than GNU/Linux as we know it. It was developed by an independent company with an attitude of "not invented here." Getting their, ah, innovations into the Linux mainline is an exercise in pain for the kernel devs [livejournal.com] , and if you want GNU/Linux as humans actually use it on it you need something similar to coLinux.

tl;dr summary: the most Linux-like thing about Android is buzzword compatibility.

Re:Android is the Open Source replacement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461431)

With the advent of Android on Linux, OpenMoko can safely retire.

Android is will always be a shadow of what OpenMoko could have been.

There will be a flood of Android hardware out soon in addition to the G1 and at least some of it will be hackable or open enough for developers to delve into the stack if they want.

No there won't. Android has backing from the mobile providers, and google has already shown with the android store fiasco that they plan to abide by TOS of mobile plans.

Re:Android is the Open Source replacement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461461)

If you like to write code in java and have your apps removed from the Android app store -- Android is for you!

Seriously, Android probably isn't horrible, just don't make the mistake that when you get an Android phone, it's somehow a great open environment where you can do whatever you want.

Re:Android is the Open Source replacement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27462097)

Android is not the first Linux-based phone OS. Motorola, for one, has used Montavista Linux in several of theirs (notably the A1200 MING and the RAZR2 V8); the source for the entire phone OS is also available.

Re:Android is the Open Source replacement (2, Interesting)

SWPadnos (191329) | more than 5 years ago | (#27462111)

With the advent of Android on Linux, OpenMoko can safely retire. There will be a flood of Android hardware out soon in addition to the G1 and at least some of it will be hackable or open enough for developers to delve into the stack if they want. For example, you'll be able to improve the hardware drivers, add functionality left out by the original makers because they feared patent infringement, and take advantage of hardware acceleration that didn't make it into the shipping product. Perhaps the only sacrosanct portion kept off limits will be the radio stack itself, which if hacked could invalidate the CE mark, FCC, GCF, PTCRB, etc.

Android is software, not hardware. There is no guarantee that you will be able to write drivers, because not all manufacturers will give you datasheets without an NDA. There's no guarantee that you would get the source code to hardware drivers, since those can be non-GPL (resulting in a tainted kernel, but who cares, right?).

Unlike Android, OpenMoko is software and hardware.

You can also run Android on the OpenMoko hardware if you like (or Debian, or at least two other tailored distributions).

To the others asking, yes, the all the hardware is also open-source. You can download a pdf file with the schematics, and Pro/E models of the case. I asked Sean about "source" files for the schematics, and they haven't released them as yet. They're in Orcad, which is a multi-thousand dollar PCB design package. The gerber files for PCB manufacture are also not available (though I think they're in the pdf as well, so you'd at least get some good hints on layout there).

All software, including hardware emulators, is available online. Additionally, and what really sets them apart, is that you can get complete documentation from the manufacturers of every part they use - the processor, RF components, memory chips, etc. That's one thing that took a lot of time, and really restricted their design.

It's too bad Sean didn't mention the downsizing last week at the Embedded Systems Conference, but I guess that would have been pretty depressing to hear anyway.

- Steve

Quite a pity... (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461095)

I thought the handset was pretty rough around the edges - too much wasted front-side real estate (what's with the weird rounded shape?), pretty shabby performance (and 0 reliability) with the stock OS (wait a sec - that describes my WM6.1 phone pretty well too :D) and even worse stability with other OS's...

Who cares that it'll run a full-blown Linux desktop if I can't use it to make phone calls and write SMS properly...?

Open software != Open hardware (1)

ivoras (455934) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461121)

There's a huge difference here - while Open source software can be produced by one or two guys in a basement, and be surrounded with joyful celebration of Free ideologies, hardware is material. Blueprints are data but nobody guarantees they will work until they're materialized. And this requires: factories, materials, go-betweens between all of them, legislature to comply to (FCC interference and wattage rules). In short, a whole bunch of people and organizations.

In a philosophical mood, this could be tied to the debate between service economy and industrial economy - one deals with "soft" products, mostly information shifting all around, the other with "hard" real material products. The debate is still not over. The current crisis could result in some good insights on how to balance the two principles (you can't eat information and services, you can't get a sophisticated civilization with everyone working in sweatshops or being occupied with subsistence farming).

O noez, it was the GNUphone! (5, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461149)

You realise of course that this was the real-life GNUphone [today.com] .

...

The Free Software Foundation (NASDAQ: RMS) has announced the Free Software alternative to the evil, DRM-infested, locked-down, defective-by-design iPhone: the GNUPhone.

The key technical innovation of the GNUPhone is that it is completely operated from the command line. "What could be more intuitive than a bash prompt?" said seventeen-year-old Debian developer Hiram Nerdboy. "The ultimate one-dimensional desktop! Just type dial voice +1-555-1212 -ntwk verizon -prot cdma2000 -ssh-version 2 -a -l -q -9 -b -k -K 14 -x and away you go! Simple and obvious!"

The phone will also serve as a versatile personal media player. "I can play any .au file or H.120 video with a single shell command! The iPod could never measure up to this powerful ease of use." Video is rendered into ASCII art with aalib. "If blocky ASCII teletype softcore pinups were good enough for 1970s minicomputer operators, they're good enough for you. Respect your elders."

The KDE project will be bringing its next-generation KDE 4 desktop to the GNUPhone. "you can flip, twirl, dice, blend, fold, spindle and mutilate your terminal windows to your heart's content," said developer Aaron Seigo. "look at that cool effect! any complaint that basic functions don't actually work is ignorant of the intrinsic beauty of the plasma api and is just more fun spread by haters like stevie ray vaughan-nichols and novell corporation."

Actual successful voice calls are expected by 2011 to 2012. Regulatory approval is proving problematic in the corrupt, corporate-captured US environment. "The FCC said that if we dared switch on this, uh, 'piece of shit' in a built-up area in its present form, they'd break all our fingers with a fourteen-pound cluebat," said Nerdboy. "They're obviously shilling for Apple, Nokia and Microsoft."

The second version of the GNUPhone will run EMACS on the HURD kernel and be operated by writing eLisp macros on the fly. "It's the clearest, most elegant and natural operating environment anyone could conceive of," said Nerdboy. "Really, we're not out to destroy Apple; that will just be a completely unintentional side effect."

Re:O noez, it was the GNUphone! (1)

hawk (1151) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461817)

1. This should have been moderated "insightful," not "funny."

2. Pursuant to requests from the usual suspect, this device will from now on be referred to as the "GNU/GNUphon"

3. Actually, given GNU's contributions, it should be the "GNU/GNUGNU/Phone"

hawk

Fantastic Opportunity, Failure to Execute (4, Insightful)

Hairy1 (180056) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461251)

The Buzz generated by OpenMoko was huge; several people at my work were just waiting for something that could be used as a phone before they purchased one. We waited three months, then six months, and then finally gave up expecting anything. That was a year and a half ago.

I got the Neo 1973 and used it in my autonomous boat project [youtube.com] , as it had GPS, GPRS, could run Python and connect via USB to many types of devices. At this point while late there was still some promise.

One issue was the desire to please the techies. In order to be a real success it would always have needed to operate well as a phone. It never really achieved that. I would have preferred to see development limited to providing basic phone functionality first, then once that was stable extending it.

Instead it seemed that the Neo became a techie plaything, which was cool for me wanting a small device for my robotics, but not so good for a company trying to compete in the phone market where millions of units are sold. OpenMoko didn't deliver working software. The first rule of Open Source is to deliver something that works early.

Although there is a community around OpenMoko I suspect it will move to platforms that have a real future on mobile devices now. The Android platform may not be perfect yet, but it holds far more promise as a polished product that techies can extend, yet is still a viable mass market phone.

Personally I feel that Sean was too idealistic, and that OpenMoko needed someone stronger that could make some hard headed business decisions rather than making decisions that would see the total reworking of the platform when the first one wasn't even working.

I am very disappointed that such a great opportunity has failed because those in charge misunderstood that the tech people were his market. Certainly a healthy community is a good thing, but you can't create a polished product by trying to please every man and his dog.

Money talks, BS walks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461283)

Freedom for development and Open Source Smartphone software die. Closed platform phone followed by a sect of fanboys is a HUGE success and makes SJ richer.
News at 11.

Sean's speech at ESC about making a 3G devic (4, Informative)

sciurus0 (894908) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461307)

Reposting from http://lists.openmoko.org/pipermail/community/2009-April/044915.html [openmoko.org]

Sean's speech at ESC about making a 3G device:

Since I worked on the presentation with Sean for the days he was here in
SF, let me give you my view and sean's view. That way we won't get into
some version of the telephone game.

Sean discussed three things at OpenExpo.

1. Our successes.
2. Our mistakes.
3. Our challenges

I won't go over 1& 2 but I'll cover #3 since rasters perception has
a bit of color added to it. Only a tiny bit and he's entitled
to that color commentary, I'll just add what Sean and I, as authors
of the presentation, had as our message.

Our biggest challenge was to make a choice about how to spend the
balance of 2009.

There were two paths:
A: Fulfill our promises on FreeRunner and launch GTA03
B: Fulfill our promises on FreeRunner and launch project B.

We will talk more about project B in the coming months, but these
salient facts should be able to guide any budding executives out there.

1. GTA03 was in constant flux as a design.
2. GTA03 schedule was consequently always slipping.
3. The resources required for GTA03 are 3X those required for Project B.
4. We don't have 3X.

So, we picked plan B.

Now comes the question, what about GTA03? how do we get there? And when?
and what is it?

Well my basic argument was and is this:

First we attend to the issues that still remain with the GTA02. That's
why the VP of marketing ( of all people) is working on the buzz fix
problem. Second we complete project B. When we've done that, then we
get to eat dessert. Essentially, I made the same argument I heard so
many times on this list: "How do expect us to buy a GTA03 when you've
yet to deliver on all the promise of FreeRunner?" And I took the
arguments I heard from disty seriously, "how do you expect us to buy FR,
when GTA03 is right around the corner?" And I accepted the arguments I
heard from Engineers I respect who questioned the viability of the GTA03
in the market place. All of those arguments said "put a bullet in its
brain pan!"

    So, what about GTA03? As it was defined, it is dead. So how do we
get to a new GTA03? Two requirements: continue to improve GTA02; deliver
on project B. What is GTA03 and when do we get there? There are a number
of independent efforts out there that are pitching me ideas for GTA03.
I talked to sean a bit about this and I'd like to try to open up more
of the design process and the marketing process to the community.
Perhaps on a separate list. Some of these discussions have already started.

What can you do to help?
1. Move GTA02 code upstream.
2. Stay Involved.
3. Continue work on applications
4. Buy a FreeRunner.
5. Get involved in GTA03 discussions

Re:Sean's speech at ESC about making a 3G devic (2, Insightful)

Warbothong (905464) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461551)

I'm sorry, I know this story needs some influx from people higher up in the know, but to me that's an awful lot of buzzword bingo.

I think I read it as someone's working on the buzzing issue, making a new model would be prohibitively expensive and would hurt sales of the current model, there's an announcement coming?

Moko's window of opportunity is long gone (1)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461347)

There was a window of opportunity for the OpenMoko but this window is long gone. They failed to ship on time, and when they did it was a ultra-expensive **non-functional** toy.

I, for one, kept waiting to buy one. But the reports of non-working hardware, and the other news about 3 or 4 different frameworks being worked upon, each of which not working properly for SMS + Calls, completely put me off. Point is there are not that many enthusiasts willing/able to throw so much money in the risky bet that the Freerunner was. That thing was just too expensive, and did less (as far as phone is concerned) than a 40 euro Nokia.

Then Google releases Android: open enough and ***fully*** working. Is anybody surprised?

Re:Moko's window of opportunity is long gone (1)

Warbothong (905464) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461529)

Then Google releases Android: open enough and ***fully*** working. Is anybody surprised?

Android's not fully working at all, since it's just an OS. You can't run it without a phone. That's where the Freerunner steps in :)

Seriously, OpenMoko should never have written their own stuff when Qtopia was out there (and works very well thankyouverymuch). Now that Qtopia/Qt Extended's been discontinued then they should make the FreeRunner an Android phone. Better yet, package Android for Debian and use that.

When Symbian finally becomes Free I'll bet there's a FreeRunner port pretty damned quick.

Re:Moko's window of opportunity is long gone (1)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461581)

How many competent developers do you expect to be interested in porting software to a phone that doesn't support 3G? How many months will you have to wait? How many months have you been waiting?

Honestly, I turned my G1 into a Android Developer Phone (it is possible). What am I missing?

Mind you, I can have Debian running on it already.

Not a Good Year for Open Hardware Projects (4, Informative)

otakuj462 (1071510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461395)

This has not been such a good year for open hardware projects. First OLPC, and now OpenMoko. I would say that both projects may have been overly ambitious, and were certainly poorly managed. I wonder, what will be next? OpenPandora [openpandora.org] ? Can anyone list any successful open hardware projects?

You can't spell "Epic Failure" without F-R-E-E (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461487)

Another FOSS project crashes and burns. Between this, Sun, and OLPC, it's been an awesome couple of months for showing the world that "Free" software is a legitimate choices for businesses and organizations.

"Free" software isn't free - it's worthless.

ha ha! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27461603)

obama fucked that one hard. no bail out money for faggots.

Opportunity squandered (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461673)

Announced before the iPhone was released -and way before Android- this is just another great idea that had no traction because of poor management of the project. I'm glad I didn't buy one of these.

The caption of this new is just a lie (1)

dsamblas (1422055) | more than 5 years ago | (#27461857)

Any one that wants to be informed just has to visit mailing list, because this is a open project at all levels, search for this kind of openness any closed hardware arround there. No more to say.
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