I like the FP2 concept a lot and I really hope, that everything works like expected, including the connection of the differed modules of the phone. I think it was the right choice of Fairphone to use components witch are used in a wide range of other phones. This is the only way to become a realistic chance of longtime software support and a longtime support with spare parts.
Very good work @Fairphone, I couldn’t imagine that you try to take such a huge step (modules) at FP2. I’m very exited about that.
Except the GPS I’m absolutely happy with my FP1U but my last Smartphone (HTC Desire S), witch is used by my mother at the moment becomes even more problematic (after 4 years of use) and makes funny things, so I will buy a FP2 to be able to give my FP1U to my mother.
Yes 500€ are quite expensive and I wold never buy a pone for this price. But I’m willing to buy a phone and the idea(s) behind it for this price. I’m not happy with this but I think it is acceptable.
I hope both Fairphones will live long enough to don’t need to buy another one in next years again. And I hope that the module connections of the FP2 will stand even huge shocks (I would like to mount one of the prototypes to my bike with nothing more than a Finn an ride some rough roads. But unfortunately I don’t have one ;))
I think this is a fair argument. High-end features will make a phone attractive. And I would like to expand on this. High-end features don’t necessarily have to be cost drivers. Remember the cost breakdown for the first Fairphone. Only a fraction of the final sales price (€ 129,75 of € 325) were spent on design, engineering, components, manufacturing, and assembly together. Which means, only a fraction of this fraction was spent on components. Trying to save on those components seems to be missing the point. Components are no relevant cost drivers. They just serve to make a device attractive and justify the final sales price.
so surprisingly we agree. You don’t care about a high-end screen, someone using the device for photo work does… Same for the chipset: I don’t need a high-end because I do not time-critical computations (games), you may play games. This argument can easily be expanded to any other functionality, like NFC (critical for one, not for the other) or wireless charging.
My main point is that, due to the modular architecture, it is relatively easy to replace elements by new high end elements (future proof), or downgrade it because you don’t need some functionality (in your case the NFC, in my case the latest processor). If you want to go from A to B a Skoda may be good enough; others may insist on the top-of-the line Audi (the same platform). So a “good-enough” strategy is an as valid approach for durability as a top-of-the-line approach. It may even be a key selling point for a large part of the Fairphone customer base (see earlier blog by Tessa) such as the ethical supporter or proud pioneer (I’m very much into their business model, rather than into their technology)
Funding strategy: using an independent sales channel (a “bank”) you uncouple device from service provider. The operators also want their cut (and that can be stiff), and that will be charged to you, and/or sales price (whole sale discount that comes at the cost of the profit for Fair phone). Fairphone also has to negotiate with all operators in all countries (Netherlands, Germany, France, Swiss, Sweden, Finland…). And you reduce the choice of provider (hardly “fair”, if I may abuse the word).
Both ideas address one key issue: good price/performance with sustainability and good working conditions for the employees. I don’t see the point in having the utmost sustainable high-end model that no-one (few) can afford.
And arguments against impulse buying: it’s a hobby. Collecting stamps also costs trees
The way I see it such a strategy would have to address issues like:
How to enable user freedom within the base image? (Like disabling google play services, and avoiding complicating modifications).
How to educate users on software freedom (offering easy testing of other OS’s, providing reading materials, starting off with the most free OS and adding non-free if desired)
How to enable development of a free software stack (unlocked bootloader, no signature checking, proper documentation, sideloading of non-free drivers, enabling reverse engineerng and development by providing devices, hosting hack-events and paying development)
How to avoid playng catch-up (buying additional stock of reverse-engineerd processors, use hardware closest to freed hardware to lower the required development effort, separate the function of phone and computing to allow more ree processors for the generic computing task)
How to increase the freedom options in the industry (partner with leading software and hardware parties to build more-free options to include in future devices or models)
How to use software freedom efforts as a market advantage (brings additional security, allows modification for other applications like handheld registration devices for companies, fuel the creation of different Fairphone distributions tailored for different audiences: a super-simple UI for elderly people, a UI for power-users, a UI with limited apps for children, hardware integration to cope with disabilities)
Just like with hardware-manufacturer the end-goal can and should be envisioned, so as to develop a strategy to work towards achieving that goal. Reaching full freedom options will require years of work, multiple Fairphone revisions, and changes in industry and maybe even legistlation. To make sure progress continues to be made, a long-term view is required.
I like your idea a lot. This does sound great and is definitely the way Fairphone should go in the future.
One reason why they are not implementing this idea right away might be the overall price: Due to economy of scale mechanisms parts and devices become cheaper if you order/build them in large numbers. If Fairphone would offer many different versions for each of the modules, they would have to pay more when buying the individual parts because they order fewer of each kind. That would increase the price and in the end the lower speced phone might not be much cheaper than the higher speced Fairphone 2 we have been presented with.
In that light it probably is a good idea to start of with one configuration and get that right and as cheap as possible. Later one can add other versions once the scale is large enough to do so.
Of course you could argue that they should have started off with a cheaper version with lower specifications. That would also make it more likely to achieve the large quantities and thus economy of scale is more likely to work. However that would compromise the overall idea of longevity. In the end people would generate more waste and would have higher expanses when they start of with a cheap version and then upgrade to higher specifications within a shorter time frame.
It still is about that good-enough: I wanted to argue it will be hard to find a processor that is cheaper, but good enough. I suppose since the MediaTek disaster with the current model, i am very sensitive towards this component. For me a top-notch processor is not about the perfomance (now, it may be in 4 years!) but the amount of support to be expected for third-party OSes and Android Upgrades. Speaking of CPU/Chipset It may be only the “Mercedes” is good enough for the Fairphone, not because of its speed, but because it is the only one with adequate support. *Disclaimer: I have no idea if the Mercedes “support” is any good. And when i drive a car, which rarely happens, it’s a 13-year old Opel (Corsa, specifically ;-)).
Thanks for that detailed strategy. Sounds good like a good strategy to develop a free phone.
We agree on long term goals. But: I do not think Fairphone should be the company implement your full strategy, because I see it conflicting to other goals Fairphone pursuits. I also think Fairphone should focus on delivering a Fair phone, not necessarily a free phone.
While I am a supporter of free software, there is simply stuff for Fairphone to do that i personally think of as more important. This is a personal decision, but i have the impression that while open source/free software is part of Fairphones idea, it is not the driving force.
Not speculation, @ben, I am reading this thread and counting how many people are saying “it was good to be fair, but 525 is too much for me, I cannot pay all this amount at once, I will keep my old phone / buy another unfair phone when the old one becomes unusable” while other saying “it’s not too much, an iPhone 4/5/6 costed the same, I will buy FP2”
I think Fairphone put themselves right into the middle of this debate. Let me explain.
Some of you think the FP2 is too expensive.
Some of you think it should be more high-end (NFC, even faster/newer chipset, etc).
Some of you want a ‘good enough’ device.
Some of you want a great device, both to be competitive and to last longer.
Fairphone made a ‘good enough’ device with the FP1(U). They are trying to make a more high-end phone with the FP2. This was their plan all along.
For those of us who do not want to spend €500 on a phone, that is a bit disappointing. But people who want to buy cheaper phones could be overrepresented in this forum, because the FP1 was not bought by a lot of people who would normally want to spend that much on a phone (considering it wasn’t top-notch on the technical end).
Don’t forget that there is an ungodly amount of people who buy flagship phones for €600+ every two years. Those people could save some money (because of the lower cost and because of the expected longevity of the FP2) and have a fairer phone too.
Fairphone is not trying to sell us a new phone. They are trying to make it appealing (tech/price wise) to the enormous amount of people who are already willing to spend that much money on a phone and don’t have a Fairphone yet.
The FP2 is not the best of the best, but it is also not simply a ‘good enough’ phone. Some FP1 owners will buy the FP2 too, but most FP2 owners will be people who right now are walking around with an S4 or Moto X, iPhone 5 or Nexus 5 in their hands, just to name a few. Oh, and the Note 3, which is also big as fuck.
@ben I think we’re on the same track, so let me clarify: Fairhpone has done a great job at considering the issues of environment and workers, and I believe they should continue improving on it. However in order to ensure a long lifetime software-updates should be supplied for many years to prevent future incompatibilities and fix security issues. This burden can be lowered by staying close with upstream development and/or by allowing others to provide current software. Currently only Apple and Ubuntu Touch have a strong strategy for keeping updates. Although Apple will drop support abruptly, whilst a device supporting free sofware could stay current as long as development interest remains and the hardware can cope.
I like to believe fairness includes protecting the users rights rather than selling out on them. If a user prefers to use services or applications infringing your privacy, security or freedom it is their freedom to do so. I understand the general public is only aware of the duopoly of Android and iOS with their relative stores. Offering that option makes sense, as those users would have still made other contributions to the environment and they should be applauded for it. But why stop there and not explore ways to improve the offering? If people can cope with technological advancements, and can switch between software vendors, so can they switch to a more free alternative.
I am not among those that spend more when it’s fair. This is not organic food, where you expect higher quality compared to normal food and pay a higher price. The fairness doesn’t lead to higher quality. Fairphone is just the same quality as any other phone. Same number of bugs, same quirks, same issues, same connection problems, same blurry, noisy, pinkish pictures. Fairness doesn’t add value to the product. Probably I would live with getting less for a fair phone, because I think some others deserve more, but FP1 looked to deliver enough for the money AND it was fair.
But that is also not the point. With organic food, I get your argument. ‘Organic food is better in quality, I like more quality food, so I should buy organic, even if it is more expensive.’ But there is also another argument for the same conclusion: ‘Organic food is better, morally, and therefore it is better to buy organic food.’
This second argument is the argument that Fairphone adheres to. We don’t want a fair smartphone because that would somehow make the phone perform better. Of course not. We want a fair smartphone because we would like to help the world be a better and fairer place. The quality argument is not needed.
Better not to pin me on downgrading a specific element, more on the concept of downgrading the device. Some downgrades would not make much sense, an additional 0.50€ won’t break the bank. Two expensive elements in the device are the chip set, and the display, so you would like to change those. The Intel® Core™ i3-2310M and Intel® Core™ i7-2310M processors are identical apart from performance. Dragontrail is cheaper than Gorilla 3 glass.
As someone (sorry, can’t find the link) mentioned there is the issue of economy of scale. One option is to have two versions of the device, one with the current specs, and another in batch two with the lower specs and price (let’s call it FP2-C(classic) or FP2-S(imple). This mitigates the economy of scale somewhat
Look at desktop computers: Microsoft has a great update policy, with e.g. Windows XP, which was supported for years and years. And it was not free. So does a software have to be free, to extend the liefespan of an electeonic device? Or explained in a differennt way: AOSP, which is free, does not add to a device’s lifespan because newer versions don’t adapt to older architecture.
I think the problem does not lie in the question, wheater software is free or not, but in the philosophy a company has and/or legislation it is exposed to. Imagine Google had to provide Android 5 for phones, which are 4 years old, by e.g. EU-legislation…