I’m a frequent visitor of these forums and involve myself in some of the ongoing discussions. Among those topics, I’m sensing an increasing trend that I find somewhat worrisome, and that is mostly about the hardware and software aspect of the phones. The thing is that these days, it’s almost like people are more concerned and more emotionally invested in topics about whether or not FairPhone’s hardware is open source, whether it’s software is completely “free” and whether or not FP2 will be able to run other OSes than Android.
People complain about Qualcomm’s chipset not being open (or open enough), people complain about FP2 not coming pre-rooted. People complain about FP2 coming with Android by default. People complain about there not being any announcements about support for other OSes.
Now sorry to be so blunt about it, but if that is your main concern, look elsewhere. For me, the most important aspect about FairPhone is still it’s initial goal: to educate people about what’s inside their phones and what’s involved in producing them. To also do something about this by setting an example.
Now, the hard- and software discussions on themselves are valid I guess, but I’m getting the feeling that people rush to FairPhone in hopes of finding open hard/software and are disappointed when not a whole lot about that is announced, or when whatever is announced doesn’t meet their expectations. At the same time, these people probably don’t give two thoughts about conflict minerals, child labor, worker health/safety/welfare, transparency about the processes and supply chains and all those things that form up the core value of FairPhone and what FairPhone stands for.
I’d like to see people spend a little more time thinking about the social issues and the impact FairPhone can have in that regard and worry a little less about their own first world problems.
Plus one. (Plus lots in fact).
“Fair” means totally different things to different people and you can’t please everyone!
I can only agree. FairPhone is trying to make not only a phone that is as fair (as in fairtrade) as possible, but is also setting steps towards open/free/… soft- and hardware, even trying to make the phone suitable for other OS’es.
If that’s not enough, maybe this is just not the right phone for you. Too bad.
Attacking FairPhone for not putting their secondary targets first has always feeled a bit awkward to me. Although there are many people who try to give constructive feedback, some people seem to be never satisfied. These people should maybe read what FairPhone is about:
Building a phone to create a fairer economy
Fairphone is a social enterprise that is building a movement for fairer electronics. By making a phone, we’re opening up the supply chain and creating new relationships between people and their products. We’re making a positive impact across the value chain in mining, design, manufacturing and life cycle, while expanding the market for products that put ethical values first. Together with our community, we’re changing the way products are made.
@Jerry Thank you very much for your post, I couldn’t use better words
Even though I’m an active user here in the forum, I preferred to not be involved in the discussions you mention for the same reasons you wrote (religion wars on top of all).
But I have to admit FP2 “official announcements” got me a bit perplex, because I strong believe in FP mission, but my 7 years now story of looking for a open HW/SW phone starting from the Openmoko Freerunner on 2008 and continuing with a Nokia N900 on 2010, lead me to strong believe the openness would be a need for a Fair-phone.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I definitely prefer to be involved in missions about workers welfare, conflict-free minerals finding, waste reducing and minimizing environment impact, but I believe also that software IS part of the entire product, so I would never accept to have a conflict-free minerals hardware with Windows 10 as software (I’m exaggerating only to be more clear ).
That said I didn’t buy FP2 yet because I still not have a clear idea of the SW role and, even though in the past I was deep involved in contributing on phone OSes (with Openmoko in particular) I now have not much spare time to work actively on a free OS for the FP2 so I have to be sure I will have the freedom to install at least an alternative OS other than Android and on top of all, that I will live without Google looking at me every day and night!
I think I’ll wait more hoping to have clearer ideas
It’s good that you remind us of what Fairphone is about, but I don’t think that the hardware/software questions are more important to the forum population than the fairness and environmental questions. I think its just about which questions are unanswered so far.
The way I see it Fairphone is pretty clear about their main goals and the only open question I can think of - the not yet released cost breakdown (how much goes to Worker Welfare and mining projects) - is constantly being asked about.
I don’t think so either. This forum is not a democratically reliable representation of all of Fairphone’s customers but rather dominated by people interested in technology and to me it seems like it is way easier to have long discussions about open source and operating systems than about fairer minerals simply because there are more personal opinions. @Jerry I appreciate this reminder of why I originally joined the forum.
Well, I think one important factor, besides it’s cool talking about the different os choices is the fact, that also from the software point the phone is more long living. With fp1, it was obviously difficult and often took some time until important fixes were available ( mind you, I only followed those topics only marginally). But if the fp2 HW and sw is open, you have more suppliers that can deliver new and up to date sw versions and thus keep the HW relevant for a longer time.
tl;dr: I agree except for the “look elsewhere” and the “I know all of what FairPhone is about” parts.
I would have been so disappointed if I had bought a FP1, happily I missed the Mediatek’s bus.
FairPhone committed to make a durable phone, and Mediatek was a big mistake. The design of FP1 clearly lacked some considerations about the software. Now a part of the community is harsh about it, but you also can see that like an investment. Critics can’t be all wrong. A community is a huge stack of motley people and FairPhone is also about a community. If you start suggesting people to go see elsewhere, you run the risk that someone suggest this same idea to you. It it me or are you just picky about other people being picky?
FairPhone is such a great enterprise!
As a FP1U owner, I also want to feed this thread about the importance of basic material, industrial and human aspects. I learned a lot from the discussions and analyses here, including some little-discussed ones like the life-cycle analysis that made clear that power consumption in use, rather than grey energy, was still a phone’s main environmental impact, at least carbon-wise. It also shows that keeping the phone as long as possible is crucial to minimizing impact.
Indeed the FP1’s hard- and software rough edges are a nag. That too made me think about the work required to polish a consistent user experience. Propietary vendors fare better here, and they don’t care too much about prolonging a phone’s lifetime. Quite apart from the openness’ value upon itself, I doubt that getting more open would bring us any closer to smoothing the rough edges. Only a minority of users are willing to invest (a lot of) time into tinkering their system to prolong it. But the quirks, even minor, feed the forum discussions, as can be seen from any consumer electronics firm’s sites and forums.
Cheer up FP! yours is an unusual endeavour.
The problem is that we haven’t heard a lot of news about the software openness and OS alternatives in a while. We care about all the social issues, but we’ve had plenty of informations about these, much less about the open-source argument. Being “fair” to me means also to be fair to the user’s privacy. I think the main reason why we are all asking about software here is because we are left completely in the dark. What about SailfishOS, Replicant (dream…) and others? What about the choice of the Qualcomm processor ? We keep asking because we can’t find answers, not because we don’t care about all the other things that make fairphone the special phone it is.
Thanks for bringing this up
I agree with your basic point in this post – except for this sentence. Or rather, with the implication of this sentence.
You are right that only a minority would be able/willing to prolong the life of their system by tinkering… but the beauty of open source would be that their hard work could be used by the majority who cannot afford that time and effort. FP could roll out the community updates – this would be cheap to FP and technologically accessible to anyone who uses a smart phone.
As users above have said, open source is therefore not a separate concern to fairness and the environment, but part of the solution to those concerns.
@DjDas: well said. Openmoko, the only phone in the world whose modem can run with free software, no?
@OP: I think the discussions are convincing Fairphone to put 10%+ into free software and open hardware as it was neglected for the FP1, nobody wants Fairphone to drop their fair standards, but to remind them to raise their bar in opensource-ness so that maybe the FP3 will be the first free phone AND fairer than the FP2. Just one more ideal to aspire to, it is not either-or.
As it is, there are no free phones to be bought, but this is the only company that understands the value of “values” and that has learned a lesson about free software the hard way. There’s much hope that they will deliver a fair+open phone in the not-so-distant future.
I see @Jerry’s point. Personally I see one of the reasons for the large amount of software discussion is that minerals and working conditions are issues that are harder to discuss and relate to our own experiences. Whereas software and open OS affect a user’s experience directly.
To @Janiak: Good point about asking questions because you can’t find the answers. We are working on releasing information about software in the next week(s). Really!
I just hope people choose for FairPhone for the right reasons.
Thanks; it wasn’t my point, though, it was Rekotc’s. But I concur and am looking forward to some authentic, first-hand reflection about software, just as you have done e.g. for gold sourcing…
@Jerry, I just saw this now … I’ve send you a PM about this a few minutes ago. Based on: Replicant support for FP2
For me it boils down to: Is the Fairphone project just a brand that wants to make the world better by marketing and by showing companies how small changes in the production chain are possible to make it “better” or is the Fairphone project also people getting their hands dirty everywhere and that includes the hardware, workers safety, chemicals, hazardous waste, recycling, new solutions and chip design these days. Else you cannot provide real support and the phone is just another standard technical gadget soon dead if it is not made to be “extendable” or just “better” by software. This is very complicated with the current standard SoC design and fast release cycles, I know.
But whatever chipset is used, in the end the FP project needs coders and these coders need to have access to more or less the full code. The more or less is important and we should talk about this. It not about the patented camera gimmicks, it’s about full support for a long time.
Please don’t use terms like “first world problems” it’s a stupid term for killing valid arguments like “hipster” and does not help.
I bought the FP1 and I knew it was crap technically, but knew it would be good enough for me for a long time AND because I wanted to support the FP idea. The FP2 is just “branding” a phone, again. That made me upset.
And please keep in mind the FP1 is not a very secure device if it doesn’t get more updates (browser!). That is a problem these days if you want to use your phone in a normal way. Therefore the chipset and having coders with access to (re)sources is important and this must be discussed.
It boils down to a difference in opinion about what FairPhone stands for.
For me, the number one thing FairPhone should address is the circumstances under which phones are produced (from the mines in Congo all the way up to the factory workers in China and even the people doing the transportation to Europe). Most important is that the story that FP wants to tell is being told and reaches as wide an audience as possible. For me, that is the reason why I chose to buy a FP1. Openness on the software side is just an added bonus for me.
The reason I’m stamping my foot on the whole OSS thing lately is because I get the impression that a certain group of people flocked to FP1 because they assumed it would be an open platform but now it turns out that FairPhone can’t meet their expectations. It’s true that in the past, FP made a few statements that they couldn’t deliver (Android updates, other OSes) and while that certainly is disappointing, it doesn’t make their social efforts any less valid.
I get the impression that FairPhone’s goals are better aligned with the people interested in social and environmental issues than the people who want a completely open and free platform. The thing is that there’s a relatively small but very vocal group taking every opportunity to condemn FairPhone over their lack of interest in OSS, while in my opinion it’s actually those people who have misunderstood what FP is about.
Now, I don’t think the discussion about OSS is one that shouldn’t be had, but I get a little ticked off by people who say the entire FairPhone project is a failure simply because their expectations aren’t met. There’s these people who say the FairPhone can never be ‘fair’ if it’s not fully OSS. They say FairPhone devices can never be used for a long time because they’re not OSS. But some of these people appear to be so hung up on their blind devotion towards OSS that they forget the practical, real-life situation we’re in. Not trying to play this on the man now, but the username of @fp1_wo_sw_updates is actually a perfect example here. Apparently this is such a big issue to him that he’s decided to dedicate his username, his entire identity on this forum, to a protest against the lack of software updates. How short-sighted is that? As if that’s all FP is about.
Me personally, I learned a lot from FairPhone about my phone (and phones in general). I also changed my behavior regarding my phone. For the first time, I also intend to really use my phone for a longer period than 2 years. I’m also happy that, perhaps naively so, FP is at least trying to get software updates for my phone still going. Maybe that’s a far cry from the expectation of getting Android updates or being able to run your own custom OS on there, but I know it’s way, way better than the support you get from most major phone manufacturers.
So in short: it’s all boiling down to a difference in expectations. I expect FairPhone to do a lot regarding social and environmental issues and they’ve exceeded my expectations in that area. People who expect FairPhone to come up with a completely open source platform might indeed be disappointed. Understandable, but perhaps also slightly misaligned with FP itself.
I agree with almost everything, but regarding the choice of username, I think that everyone can choose their username freely and without having to judge themselves (as long as it is not against laws or the common sense).
Thanks for this elaborately made share of thoughts. I’d also love to have an open system just like many others, but as you said multiple times now it simply cannot be the main reason to buy a FP at the moment. Today’s society’s nuture tells them that they will always get more or a better product if they spend more money on it. So some people might think they can expect a more open software because there is no extra technology for the extra money they spend compared to other smartphones that are cheaper and have similar specs. That’s just the way we are raised and the way conventional markets work. We have to learn again what the phrase ‘True Costs’ really means.
Maybe in the future the Fairphone will be able to provide a free platform in a way no other company does. At least I hope so and until then I’ll be happy to be using the fairest phone there is on the market today.