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Kite - another modular phone in Crowdfunding phase

I just saw this posted on the F-Droid Forum:

So modularity in smartphones is definitely a trend now - even if still no major players joined in.

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Hmmm, it’s based on a Snapdragon 450 SoC, so… Open hardware? SoC is owned by Qualcomm. Open software? Qualcomm SoCs need blobs. I distrust it will be 100% open as claimed. Seems to be hackable, though.

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I guess they want you to read the “Which parts of Kite are not ‘Open’ ?” part … you have to scroll down a bit :wink: .

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Fair point (pun intended!)

Although I still think they should not publicize the project as open hardware and software without leaving a note* or something.

*= “<Snapdragon, camera, industry-standard stuff>. This is a first step on the right direction. Understand us, we cannot fix The World in a single run (noone can, call it Fairphone or Purism, ;)”

Well, given the current status of this kickstarter project, I would hardly expect it to succeed i.e. reach the financial goal.
Maybe one reason is, that this project really aims at the diy-addict. No phone to unpack and use.
To me the possibility (and more important neccessity) to 3D-print your own phone is not really something to look forward to.
I think it’s great, if it can be done - like with the fairphone, but I really don’t fancy having to do it.

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Yeah, good point you made there. I agree it is definitely not consumer-oriented.

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It does not seems to try to use conflict free metals etc, which I think is one of the most important things of Fairphone. :worried:

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Yep, that’s true.
Kite seems to really focus on the DIY/technical part.
This animated gif on their kickstarter page gives the following catch-phrases in the “Values” Section:

  • Freedom - Create change
  • Imagination - Get ideas
  • Diversity - Do more, use less
  • Open - Be in charge

Social responsibility is not mentioned (even in the description of the campaign).
Just take a look at the campaign pictures and the message they send; it’s all technical.

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Hi ! Shree from Kite.

Our use of “open” is correct I think. We aren’t using “free”, which is different from “open”. We used “free” in only one place, where it makes sense.

Kite v2 will be open hardware - all the design files will be available. Kite v2 will also be open source software - we will provide most of the Android source code, bootloader source code, and the kernel source code. The binary blobs are mentioned on the page.

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I am a fan of the Fairphone. I can’t be a customer as I am based out of India. (btw, I am the creator of Kite!)

I tried reading around, but I am unable to figure out how much percentage of Fairphone is based on conflict free metals. Can you point me to any place which has this data ? I see articles, but there are no hard and fast numbers. If you can point me to any studies that compare a fairphone with other phones from a “conflict free metals” perspective, do let me know.

That’s correct. However, it has an education/research/startup angle that you could consider. Existing smartphones do not encourage experimentation.

Consumers stay consumers. Kite allows makers, students, educators, research, startups & small companies to build whatever they want on top of a powerful smartphone. Our videos show various examples, and the campaign page does so too. You could also lookup our webpage at kiteboard dot io, as well as Kite’s hackaday page.

Kite may be used by students to do projects, by makers to experiment with cool ideas, and startups, small companies can use it to make their own devices. Designers can also play a role.

Today’s smartphones are optimized for entire populations, and the design decisions made are not necessarily optimal for everyone. With Kite, we put you in charge. Want the buttons elsewhere ? Just mod the case & go!

Kite ships with a 720p screen. Somebody could design a small hardware board for, say, the Fairphone’s display. With such a change, a Kite user will be able to use Fairphone’s 1080p display.

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Social responsibility is not a stated goal. It is intended as an after effect. “Do more, use less” is surely a sign of social responsibility.

Folks who DIY their own phones make choices that are local - e.g. they use locally sourced batteries, local DIY electronic parts, locally sourced 3D printing filament, and so on. Users of Kite are also likely to create local communities that help each other, apart from collaborating globally to take benefit of the best of both worlds.

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Hi @shreekumar3d

Nice to hear from you directly and I was happy to read about this project.
I think the Kite and Fairphone are different projects, but they seem compatible! For me, social responsibility and conflict-free materials are very important. That’s the reason why I chose Fairphone. But the modularity of the phone is a plus and I also like the idea of your DIY phone (in the raspberry pi spirit).

Reading you message, I wonder if you shouldn’t alsospeak to Fairphone directly:

Wouldn’t it be interesting to use Fairphone’s expertise? I have always thought that Fairphone should be a label more than a one-phone company: if their pioneer work could lead other brands to use conflict-free materials, their goals would be achieved faster. For example, you could try to negotiate with Fairphone to use the same conflict-free metals as they do. I don’t know how feasible it is, if there is enough for a broader production, etc. but it would surely add value to your phone!

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Hi @shreekumar3d from me as well!

I really like your project a lot, though it’s not for me, as I stated above, due to lack of soldering expertise.
I give you, that “Do more with less” is socially responsible in that it’s reducing waste and enhancing longevity of the phone.

I stil don’t buy into this statement, but this may be due to a misconception on my side.
Don’t DIY folks buy their electronic parts in the usual places as well, i.e. local stores as well as online on ebay, amazon, alibaba … And even if they buy locally, the parts they are achieving are standard parts produced the same way that those parts are made for every brand of phone. Where are you able to buy local sourced batteries? Batteris tailored to your needs from standard modules maybe, but those modules are made from standard materials produced under standard production conditions.
So, when I say “Social responisbility”, I refer to mining and production conditions as well; and I fail to see that in kite right now.
If DIY-folks take care of that themselves, it wold be their own decision. Their is no advice in that direction on the project page.
Please don’t get me wrong, I understand, that Kite is initially serving another purpose and it is absolutely impossible to tackle all issues by just one kickstarter project. And the target of Kite is absolutely valid and worth supporting.
Therefore I support @chrisse’s idea to contact Fairphone and check in what way you can learn from each other and “join forces”.
But first of all, right now, I wish you all the luck for your project!

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The Kite v2 kit - which is what we deliver - does not require any soldering.

In all fairness, I have to say that in a production quantity of 3000 pieces, we can’t really say do much “Social Responsibility”. So we don’t do that.

Our production conditions are pretty good. Production is in Batam/Indonesia, which is close to Singapore. Production is managed by a Japanese OEM. They do a high quality job, and it costs us a fair amount.

Also, like I mentioned in another comment, I am searching for data related to Fairphone w.r.t mining and usage of conflict free metals. If there are any reports that have hard & fast numbers, I would want to see them. Can you send me any pointers to that ?

A lot of them do, but not all the time. E.g. the Name Badge example uses the Pimoroni Scroll pHAT HD, which is manufactured in UK.

You are right, but unfortunately, this is a price sensitive market – so, unless there is a large push from somewhere, nobody would pay higher costs. I am happy that Fairphone has reached 100k users, but that’s really not a lot in the mobile world.

Thanks a lot !

Kite is an umbrella project that aims to be use to a lot of people. DIY is a cost sensitive market. We try to save money by not spending on advertisements & marketing. After that, we are selling kits at less than 300$, but many folks are telling me that ~200$ is the sweet spot. It is very hard to achieve that price point in our initial production volume. Adding conflict free metals would make it even harder for us.

How to do that ? Any contacts ?

There is the recently published fact sheet: https://www.fairphone.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Fact_sheet_web_2018.pdf

The research team has many studies already if you want to dive deeper into the matter. They also have a request form:

https://www.fairphone.com/en/research-resources/

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Well, you could try that page:
https://www.fairphone.com/en/about/contact-us/
I would guess contacting them via the “research”, “press” or “business” channel should be an option.

Fairphone offers quite a lot of information on their homepage:
https://www.fairphone.com/en/how-we-work/mapping-phone-made/
E.g. a list of suppliers.
On that page you find as well a link to the above page:

If you have a query on a specific supplier information or spotted an error, please contact the Research team.

Searching the homepage for “report” presents quite a long list of results; some of them might be of interest to you like:


Where a full report is linked:
http://www.resolv.org/site-ppa/2015/08/18/ppa-releases-independent-assessment-of-closed-pipe-sourcing-programs/

Finally:
If you really are interested, get in contact with them and find out, what they are willing and able to share.

Sounds good. I just did not find this info on the campaign page.

I won’t ever agree with you on that.
You obviously aim at an engaged community. Why not at least state, that - to strengthen the impact of the project - you would recommend one thing or the other.
I really can’t imagine that to have any dampening impact on your outreach, except it might attract an additional user group.

Here we go!
I guess, that’s the real and absolutely valid and understandable reason.
You have to get your business started first, befor you can change the world.
It’s no use aiming to do all at the same time, if not enough people are going to support it.
But you really should think about your approach to advertisment and marketing, as the kickstarter page right now does not look to promising to me. If not advertising means no Kite, that would mean saving money in the wrong place, wouldn’t it?
As I already said: I really wish you luck.

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Yep, that’s why we stick to DIY. That’s the place where all this flexibility makes sense. The idea of running a kickstarter campaign is to establish feasibility. If I weren’t running a campaign, you wouldn’t have heard about Kite – you agree ?

A typical return on marketing is 10x, meaning that backers on kickstarter will end up paying 10% more than the existing costs. Our idea is to avoid this.

You can help make me some luck :slight_smile: I request you to share my campaign with folks you know in the DIY community, makers, students, startups, research/embedded folks. That’s the only thing I generally ask…

Then we should invite @Cherry97, @jayy and others to this topic! :smiley:

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