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Fairphone 2 Android 9

Hello!

I’m excited about this update to Android 9.0 and I can’t wait for it to release to all users!

I’m wondering: what makes possible is this massive and unusual update to a new Android version?
Of course there are values: it’s fairer, but I mean, what about finances?
I suppose that past FP2 sales and FP2 spare parts sales provide enough money for this new update. Is that really so?

Could we imagine that FP2 spare parts sales alone provide enough money for perpetual Android updates for the FP2?
(I guess not, but when would it need to stop?)

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I think you should consider to #contactsupport, you very likely won’t have an official answer from FP directly on the Forum.

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Okay! but isn’t the support for actual technical needs?
I mean, I mostly ask out of curiosity, if the support helps people with actual technical issues I wouldn’t want to waste their time.

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Well… FP Support is to have any official answer, be it for technical needs or asking them questions, it’s their job.

It’s just the way to contact the company.
We are a community forum, not the company, concerning your question we can only guess and speculate.

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Right, I was hoping to get guesses and speculations mainly! but I’ll contact the support to see if they can provide more definitive answers. If so I’ll post those here.

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Well, honestly, although everyone here is right and support is the official channel to ask I wouldn’t currently bother support with that question. Especially as support currently seems overwhelmed.

As you ask for guesses and speculations:
I wouldn’t expect FP2 spare part sales provide enough money for perpetual Android updates.
My guessing is that it’s more Fairphones mission driving that development. The mission is to support HW as long as possible and as Android 7 is no longer supported (by Google, i.e. no more security updates) you have to change to at least Android 9 to provider longer support. Bringing out Android 9 for FP2 could show the industry that it’s really possible to provide a long supported device!
As you were asking for ROI: I’d say the invest could pay back from a marketing point of view. Marketing is always cost and pays back via reputation. And it would imho be an amazing marketing and press event to really show that device receives supported software for more than 5 years!
Also keep in mind that (more guessing!) “only” about two developers are working on the update (so the costs are reasonable). This is a lot for this small company, but little in the context of the smartphone industry.

If you’re still interested in some feedback from Fairphone itself you might also consider to summon Rae here. She might pass by and comment on your question.

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I totally agree with @Volker here.
Besides those considerations, you can find some info in the Impact Report under “Bigger market, greater impact

Our sales goals

… We also started selling more smartphone accessories in 2019. Accessories and spare parts made up 7% of our total revenue.

According to the *Cost Breakdown on the same page, 16% of the price of a phone are for

Product development and Impact Research

We invest in research and development of fairer material supply chains and working conditions, modular and long lasting smartphones, as well as long term software support.

So, the long term software support obviously is already calculated and included in the price of the phone you buy. The additional returns from the spare parts will help for sure; but in general, they should not be needed for providing software updates.

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And the other way round should also be considered: I wouldn’t expect FP to sell many spare parts more just because they offer an update to Android 9 (so I don’t think there’s much ROI seen from that point of view)…

Not so sure about that, if I got it right.
Wouldn’t it be more likely to buy a spare part, when the phone’s OS is kept up to date?
Who would invest a new display, when the software is not up to date and maybe even lacking security updates by Google.
OK, I have no idea, if that really amounts to a lot of sales, but it might be relevant in one or the other case.

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Probably more likely. But still I assume people replace defective modules even if there’s currently no security update available. Bad from a security perspective, good from a sustainability perspective.

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I’ve got to say, I was hesitant of replacing my broken screen and super tired battery before I read about the possible Android 9 upgrade.

Changing phone because there’s no OS support does sound wasteful. Balancing personal environmental impact and data security is hard. It’s really two separate domains. Also, it is hard to estimate how risky it is to run outdated SW.

Anyhow, that’s what brought me here to ask about it. I didn’t contact the support in the end, by the way.

7% revenue from parts!? interesting!

… /* Let, the guess, begin! *\ …

Let’s say this applies for 2019.
2017 revenue was 11,7M€. [1] I haven’t found a more recent figure.
2019 phone sales are twice as many in 2017.
So let’s say revenue in 2019 revenue is twice the 2017 revenue. That’s hopefully a low estimate.
Let’s assume that the cost breakdown of parts is similar to that of the FP3.
This means 16% of the revenue from parts is dedicated to “Product development and Impact Research,” which includes “long term software support.” That’s also probably a low estimate.

Okay, what about multiplying everything?
7% x 11,7M€ * 2 * 16% = 262 k€
That would be the amount of money “Product development and Impact Research” got from spare parts sales in 2019.

Now, how much does an Android upgrade development cost? and how does it compare to 262 k€?

Let’s try to give a generous estimate of that cost.
They have two developers working on it.
Let’s say they started working soon after Android 9.0, so in 2018, development is still ongoing in 2020 so all of 2019 could have seen Android 9.0 work.
Let’s say they both worked 100% on the topic.
How much do they earn? (Shall I create a ticket in the bugtracker to ask them? haha! err, anyhow…)
Well, how much though? Let’s say 60k€ each…? that sounds rather fair (haha!) already, doesn’t it?? Who knows. Alright! 75k€ each, it’s my last word!
So, times two for taxes and all.
75 k€ x 2 x 2 = 300 k€.
Also, there are other costs, although paying devs must account for like two thirds of the cost.
So, 300 k€ * 1,5 = 450 k€.

That’s way over the 262 k€ we had, and those were not even for Android upgrade dev only.

At least it’s the same order of magnitude.

So yeah, I guess spare parts alone aren’t enough to pay for the upgrade.

(I spent a long time on this. It’s a bit silly.)

[1] Impact Report Vol. 1 page 26 (paper)/14 (pdf) (Huh, is this supposed to be a paid document? It says 20€ on the first page.)

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Wow!
Just a few corrections:
Spare parts revenue for the FP2 was 5.3% (625,915 of 11.7 Million Euro; from the Impact Report 1 you cited, p. 26), For accessories the percentage was 4.1 (478,296 Euro).
According to the cost breakdown for the FP2 (last page), 4.62 Euro (0.88%) of the price of 525 Euro for the phone were for Software develpment.
But you most likely can not take the same percentage for spare parts or accessories. It could be much higher, if many of the costs, that are relevant for the phone in total are not applied to spare parts or accessories as well. E.g. costs for patent (which includes software), prototypes, certification, design, product development might not be calculated for spare parts.
But still, the percentage is likely much lower, than 16%.
Some certain numbers given by Fairphone in their publications:

  • 25,310 FP2 sold in 2017 (Impact report 1, p. 24)
  • 4.62 Euro for software development per phone (cost breakdown, p. )
    This equals 116,932.2 Euro for software development from phone sales in 2017.
    :slight_smile:
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4 posts were split to a new topic: Update-Status Android 9 für Fairphone 2?