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Why i think Fairphone OS should drop root and pre-install Google Apps

This is about ideology, isn’t it? Do we think that people can handle their devices responsibly or do we think they need to be protected by Fairphone (as a company)?

My opinion is the following: Put everything (root, Android Vanilla, Google Apps) in the advanced section of the Fairphone Updater and ship with an unrooted Fairphone OS without Google. Also Google Apps have to be treated responsibly and we cannot trust average users that they can handle them. (Saying this half-ironically.)

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The yes/no open OS discussion overlooks a very fundamental issue: liability. If FP would allow you to “mess around” with the OS and does not clearly distance itself from the modifications FP has to repair the device when things go wrong (consumer protection). It also can get sued for damages indirectly due to non-intended use of the phone (eg., changed OS). So the terms and conditions should read: we guarantee the phone “out of the box”. Any modification in HW or OS will null-and-void this guarantee. I know that you technically can re-install the OS such that there is no difference with the factory OS, but that’s beside the point here.

I understand and appreciate the eagerness of the tech community to have an ethical, completely open, phone that they can modify. But, as argued before, FP cannot/should not sell those. With an alternative OS the FP-specific UI/UX disappears, and the FP becomes just like any other phone (apart from the ethical dimension)

My (probably heretic) proposal is to make two ethical phones. The first is the FP-branded phone as-we-know-it (UX/UI, support, integration with existing services) and one non-branded ethical phone with all technical wizardry. With this approach you also serve two communities with the same device, the “I want a social smartphone and want the warranty” community and the “I want a social smartphone where I can change the OS and I don’t care to much about warranty”. Both phones are equally social, repairable, and recycle-able. Only the open OS is different (but that is not a FP any more)

One platform, two devices for two different customer segments. The conservative segment buys the FP branded, FP UX phone with a social premium. The techy segment buys the non-branded, FP-platform phone (also ethical), but with an extra “fair = open OS” premium.

  • Comment
    An additional argument in favor of “off-the-shelf-no-fuzz” SW is that what today is an open source effort is tomorrow owned by big business (Google, Apple, Microsoft). The CyagenMod is an example. Heavily promoted in the FP fora as “truly open” it recently made a deal with Microsoft to do deep integration with Microsoft services. Don’t see much of a difference with having deep integration with Google services.
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You seem to forget the “I want a social smartphone, which I truly own (and which I can hence change or ‘customize’ the OS of, should I want to), but I do care about warranty” community. Of which there are a few members represented here on the forum, myself included.

I should have the right to tinker with my phone. I own it after all. That right comes with consequences though: if I break my phone (through tinkering or otherwise), I’m on my own. I accept that. But I’m not willing to accept that unrelated breakage won’t be covered. It would, quite simply, not be ‘fair’ to have to accept that (yes, I do feel quite strongly about this).

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I’m with you that you should be able to tinker with your phone. However, Fairphone cannot/should not encourage that for legal and branding reasons. If there are to many FP-labeled phones that are modified (resulting in different UX/UI and default services) the consumer becomes confused about what the FP is exactly. A phone should have the same user experience for each model.

That’s the background behind my suggestion. If you plan to tinker with the phone, take an unlabeled phone. Still an ethical/social phone, fully owned, but without the risk of confusing other customers that this FP (with identical appearance as the non-tinkered FP) behaves differently due to a different OS.

The legal implications can be easily dealt with the same way they are dealt with in (other) software: through explicit disclaimers. Put the “enable root” install in the updater app. Show the disclaimer and only continue when the user accepts it. Done.

As to the branding: I feel Fairphone would be better advised to develop its brand around fairness, not look & feel. Let’s be honest: Fairphone has little to no chance to out-develop the Samsungs, HTCs, Huawei’s, Sony’s etc of the world. They quite simply don’t have the resources to do so. Not even close.

But the fairness is what makes the Fairphone different. Fairness is their selling point. Fairness in the supply chain, yes, first and foremost. But imagine if that ‘fairness’ message was amplified by “and we’re also fair to you, our customers: it’s your phone, so we explicitely allow you to change it. You don’t have to, it’s a perfectly fine, functional phone out-of-the-box. But you can.”

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I am no lawyer, but I think that’s not true under EU customer rights. The opposite seems to be true: even if customer support is explicitly excluded in the TOS of a device if your rooted it, this will not hold in front of the law. And a quick google search brings up some interesting infos regarding Directive 1999/44/EC. Try the search string “Rooting and flashing your device does not void the warranty in EU”.

Neither in Finland nor Germany, nor the Netherlands a supplier is liable if you do something to a product and it destroys the product which is out of the ordinary use. I argue that supplying root access is not out of the ordinary. You have this on every desktop PC. Only since Apple (and others) started to mess with customer rights, it has become commonplace that you are not allowed to open a device, not to jailbreak it - else, they are going to deny you support. And it is denying us a right guaranteed by national law, based on said EU directive.

Of course, FP can not solve software problems you caused yourself. They can tell you - as they already do now - to ask the community. If this does not work out, you can reset the device - and FP also already tells you that.

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No, I think not having Google Apps installed by default is a (very) big advantage. I think users shouldn’t have to go through hassle to free their phones, while I see no problem at all in having to go through the little hassle of installing Google Apps manually to confirm that you still want to give your private data away. It’s a good thing that the user is confronted with his decision with every update like telling him that he’s still not free and giving her/him several chances to change that.

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To be honest, the only reason why I consider Fairphone 2 is the root access straight out of the box and getting rid of Google.

If I need to fiddle with it, I can also get a cheaper phone with better extras and install Cyanogenmod. Yes, Fairphone also offers “green” components which is a plus. But if I only get another Google phone for an expensive price, I personally would not consider it. (sorry but I’m done with pre-installed apps)

SUGGESTION: instead of sticking to Google and throwing stones at developers and open-source fans: provide two versions of the phone! Is it so hard to install the version the customer wants? If there are people who like Google, give them Google but do not force the rest to use Google, too. The store could just offer a “Google Fairphone” and an “open-source Fairphone”. Let customers choose what they want!

Fairphone offers an alternative and that is not just “green” components. It’s the whole idea: openness. To force people to pre-installed apps and no root access (did you know that some apps like a decent anti-virus would require root?) would break with that tradition - and it’s stupid to forbid apps like anti-viruses from the start*. Breaking that tradition won’t make friends with everyone…

So, no, I do not like that idea and I also do not like the idea of the “unlock alternative”. If you do not want open-source developers, I will leave and get Cyanogenmod. Sorry, I’m done with people who force me to do it their way. And to read such a blog-post on the Fairphone forum just makes me sad. I really thought you guys were open-minded…



*everyone who argues that there are non-root anti-viruses in the app-stores, go and google! They cannot remove any sophisticated malicious app without root. They can only maybe detect it.

FP does offer this. But it’s not their main goal. Their main goal is to increase Fairness in mining and production, and proving such a phone can be competitive and a commercial success.
The green issue (like repairability) and openess (like the root access and the possibility not to install GApps) are nice extras. But not the core business of FP.

So, personally I really don’t understand why you are sad, just because a FP-user started a forum topic to discuss this issue. I don’t understand why you talk about people who “force me to do it their way”, about a “broken tradition” (FP has only produced one phone…).
Seeing the efforts FP makes, they certainly want open-source developers. They even try to get them on board and make sure the FP2 is compatible with other OS. Do you know many commercially available phones where this is done?

Personally, I don’t care about this issue. And I don’t know very much about it. For me, the “default” option being a FP with Android and GApps is perfect. I receive the phone and everything works. That’s what I want. And personally, I am convinced there are many, many more consumers just like me. Consumers FP needs to convince buying their product. Consumers who, maybe, are not willing to take an other hurdle before they can use their phone. Consumers who want to buy a fair phone, not an open phone.

Of course, there would be a public for an OpenPhone. It’s just not FairPhones goal to make this phone. So don’t be angry if they don’t do this…

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[quote=“danielsjohan, post:151, topic:5582”]
I really don’t understand why you are sad, just because a FP-user started a forum topic to discuss this issue
[/quote]That would be because “this issue” exists and because we think it is an issue.

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:151, topic:5582”]
They even try to get them on board and make sure the FP2 is compatible with other OS.
[/quote]Source?

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:151, topic:5582”]
Personally, I don’t care about this issue.
[/quote]That’s really sad. There are always people who say: “I know this is bad for me, but I don’t care”.

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:151, topic:5582”]
And I don’t know very much about it.
[/quote]That’s even worse. Combined with previous statement, you’re telling us that you’re gonna stick with Google Apps Store, no matter what. And you don’t want to know what can or does happen.

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:151, topic:5582”]
I am convinced there are many, many more consumers just like me
[/quote]And we agree with you. And there are literally thousands or phones out that are perfect for you.

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:151, topic:5582”]
Consumers who, maybe, are not willing to take an other hurdle before they can use their phone.
[/quote]Yes. It’s a real hurdle to ask consumers, who install 100 Apps on the phone, to install the App Store themselves.

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:151, topic:5582”]
Of course, there would be a public for an OpenPhone. It’s just not FairPhones goal to make this phone.
[/quote]And that would be another reason for threads like this. Openness was FP motto, once.

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Totally agree. Fast updates to the latest stock Android is as much as part of the device’s lifecycle as any hardware sustainability. Spending time and money fiddling around with software features is a waste of resources. As you say, Motorola is a great model to follow here.

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Wow, that’s a lot of quoting :slight_smile:

Please, don’t judge me if I don’t share your priorities. For me, personaly, worker welfare, a solution for conflict minerals and environmentally sustainable products are the main priorities. And it happens FP shares at least two of these priorities. Lucky for me, and that’s the reason I bought a FP1. Apparently you’re not happy with the approach of FP. So, the solution is simple: don’t buy it.

Indeed. But they are not fair. So the FAIRPhone is even more perfect for me :smile:

One part of my post, you didn’t answer to. However, this was, for me, the main argument:

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[quote=“HackAR, post:152, topic:5582”]Source?[/quote]The Blogpost contains no info on

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:151, topic:5582”]
they certainly want open-source developers. They even try to get them on board and make sure the FP2 is compatible with other OS.
[/quote]It’s about their goals and ambitions.

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:154, topic:5582”]
Apparently you’re not happy with the approach of FP. So, the solution is simple: don’t buy it.
[/quote]I love “eat it or leave it” arguments. Feedback is only welcome if it supports managers decision?

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:154, topic:5582”]
But they are not fair. So the FAIRPhone is even more perfect for me
[/quote]So you think it’s more fair to make the phone more unfair if it makes the phone better for you? But how can you, since

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:154, topic:5582”]
One part of my post, you didn’t answer to.
[/quote]The reason would be that it is no argument at all. How is the fact that openness is not 1nd level goal an argument for installing Google Apps Store?

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In the blogpost, I read this:

We wanted to know how much transparency we could expect from the vendor
and if we would be able to make the development kits available to third
parties in order to enable them to port various operating systems to our
hardware platform.

There is more, spread out over the forum. I’m not really going to search all this, sorry.

Because the goal of FP is to prove they can make a FairPhone in such a way, the general consumer will buy it. They want to prove the industry can be changed from within. (source: almost every interview with FP-people)
This means they have to make a smartphone that is fairer than other smartphones, but still appealing to the general consumer. And this general consumer is used to having GApps installed.

So, I’m saying the following (a bit exaggerated):
You’re asking the FP company to abandon their first goal, and instead try to make an open phone.
I don’t agree. If people want an OpenPhone, they can start a company, similar to FP, and pursue their goals. But they shouldn’t ask FP to try to make the phone they want to make. Beause I’m convinced this will harm the goal of FP (make a fairer smartphone that’s appealing to the average consumer).

Please, take into account the “Fair” in FairPhone stands for “Fair” as in FairTrade. Again, see the primary goal of the FP company. And again, if you think an other issue should be priority, feel free to try and pursue that goal. I’m not saying you’re wrong in finding this important. I’m just saying you’re misinterpreting the word “Fair” as it is used in the contexst of this specific phone.

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[quote=“danielsjohan, post:156, topic:5582”]
You’re asking the FP company to abandon their first goal, and instead try to make an open phone.
[/quote]I really don’t see the relation. How is “Fair as in FairTrade” connected with Google Apps Store? Who tells FP to choose between FairTrade and Google Apps Store free phone?

And from consumer point of view there is no need for FairPhone just to make a point for FairTrade.

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FairTrade only works if as many people as possible buy fairtrade goods. Let’s be realistic: The majority of people want Google Apps to be preinstalled. They want a phone, which works the same as any other popular phone. And only if Fairphone can reach these people, they will reach their goal of a Fair(Trade)Phone.

Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion, as a private person.

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How do you know what majority of potential FP customers want? Do you know if those who do want Google Apps Store are ok with installing the Store on demand?

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That’s exactly the question I’m asking you.
Fair Trade does not mean there can’t be GApps. So, if you argue the GApps shouldn’t be there, because this would mean the phone is not fair anymore, I would really want to know why you think this.
Personnaly, I don’t think they are related. And thus, a phone that wants to be “Fair as in Fairtrade”, shouldn’t focus on this issue (it’s not forbidden and they do want to make efforts, but it should be clear this is not their main target).

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[quote=“danielsjohan, post:160, topic:5582”]
if you argue the GApps shouldn’t be there, because this would mean the phone is not fair anymore
[/quote]I don’t. Not in term fair as in FairTrade.

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:160, topic:5582”]
a phone that wants to be “Fair as in Fairtrade”, shouldn’t focus on this issue
[/quote]FP did it with FP1. It was a statement for openness. And an offer for the customers to chose what they want. And now FP2 backs off. And this is a statement also.

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I think to a large extent we are reacting to information we don’t yet know. Fairphone haven’t announced their larger intentions to bring alternative OSs to the FP2. All we know is that the basic flavour is Android, but beyond that we don’t yet know what else will be available. We know that FP have intentions and desires. FP do still believe in openness though, but it’s not the number one priority.

The reason FP was setup was the hardware element and that goal is not yet achieved (even with the FP2), so I can understand why they are focused on that more than the software side. But fingers crossed that we’re going to get there with FP2… I’m hopeful for them.

I think we just need to sit tight and wait a little longer for more information to materialise :slight_smile:

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