Democracy, Sustainability/environment, Price

First of all, i am not really sure, what i really want to say. Although i am following this company and this forum for about 2 years now, i never posted anything yet and i just registered. First i just wanted to complain about the price of the phone and the laptops but then i felt, that it is not just that. I could afford the products. But i dont want to buy them for that price. And its not that i could get better specifications for less money on other phones. And it is not that i dont care about security.

I dont really feel the need to secure all my communications. If all those companies and governments spy on me, i dont feel personally harmed but for future freedom of societies i think its crucial to prevent exactly that thinking. I would like to help prevent that massive data-collection to spread even more, i want to support companies and initiatives that try to fight data collection, destroying environment, manipulation democratic processes etc.

Why i dont buy a phone for 750 Euros is not that i cant afford it or that i dont like the idea of purism. It is that i think that this price THE one big reason why the whole project of providing more security and privacy with purism products is doomed to fail. It could spread, if it would be cheaper (and i ignore now all the economic necessities of a company with all the employees and the need to make profit and such).

A product (or project) that would make a change would be sustainable and affordable for many many people around the world. i never ever bought a smartphone my whole life, not even used ones. i only use damaged or old phones, that are about to be thrown away because of enviromental issues (i wouldnt even buy a fairphone) … so maybe i am just not the target group haha.

I dont care about specs, i dont care about fancy gadget, i just have a phone because i dont want to live in a “digital/virtual cave” without connection.

In my dream there would be a phone that provides security and privacy and is democratic (affordable for “everybody” and not only for the world-elite) and that is as sustainable as possible.

The downside of it: you cant make money that way :wink:

But maybe there would be some sort of middle-way. If you really care about prodividing privacy and about challenging big tech-companies for as many people as possible, then find a way to make it affordable (not for me, i wont buy a new phone or laptop anyway :wink: for as many people as possible (somehow like software-projects as tor or linux itself). But if providing privacy and security is only the second goal and the first and most important thing is profit and a good feeling about trying to do something good, than stick to selling phone for 750,- for an elite of possible buyers.

Overall i like the marketing message of purism a lot. And i like the community in this forum :slight_smile:

Welcome to your first post on the forum. The irony, of course, to your feelings are that this is precisely what Purism wants to have happen. They want privacy and security for everyone. They want to see the digital rights of all upheld and championed.

You’re wondering why it is not possible now, and using the companies and products available now that are significantly cheaper, and thus more accessible as the basis to form your opinion, illustrates the relative bubble that your opinion is stuck in.

The real world doesn’t operate the way you imagine it does.

Look at Telsa for example. They want to rid the world of it reliance on oil for transportation. That is their main goal, yet their first product was a sports car that was out of reach for most people. They did it like this was because it was one of the few ways to demonstrate the practicality of electric vehicles while also providing the capital needed to further their goals.

You see hardware, and note that it expensive. You see similar or better hardware that is cheaper and wonder why the L5 is so expensive.

The software on the L5 is what REALLY costs money. It is, in fact, the REAL hurdle and issue to be solved. It takes a lot of work and time to develop it, and no one else is trying to do it with security and privacy at the forefront.

At least not in the way Purism is. Purism is taking mainline Linux and making it work on a mobile touch based interface. No one has done that. Furthermore, their work is making it so that ALL of Linux benefits from the work.

THIS is why the L5 costs so much. This is why people should support it.

If you look at Purism and only see hardware, than you are missing the main point.


To add on to what @2disbetter said, your statement boils down to “I know these are all valid reasons to have a high price, but I feel accessibility is more important, and thus they should lower the price.” The problem is that if they do that, Purism can’t thrive as a company, and if they don’t thrive, nobody benefits from their work. It’s sort of cliché to say, but you’re not just buying a device, it’s an investment in the possibility of a future where “privacy” is a real and attainable goal for everyone, which is exactly what you’re after.

1 Like

What I really like in this forum is, that most of the time, disagreement is expressed in a non-aggressive and non-arrogant way. Thanks for that.

You are both right. I already thought about that too, when i wrote my posting and i discussed it with my gilfriend as well (and she argued the same way you did haha)

2disbetter: i know, that the world doesnt operate the way i imagine it in my posting. but i prefer my imagination :wink: … and i can imagine it. maybe its naive, i dont care.

a possible way could be, that purism offers to sell their basic technologies (hard- and software) to other companies as well and not only the end product. For example the basic hardware mechanics that prevent that pre-operating-system-wise something is implemented. That could give them higher quantities and maybe a variety on secure devices from different companies and angles (based on the purism hard- and software-principle) … maybe even low cost or more sustainable devices as it should be for democratic reasons.

But maybe i am naive again :wink:

Of course i want purism to be successful. And even though i dont support the company with my money (nor any other producer) i hope it can lead to something better in this industrie.

In the end i tend to think that it isn’t any companies fault anyway. The failure is on politics side. And to hope for a change there, i would win the golden Naive-Statue for sure :wink:

technology is i VAST domain … few people are EXPERTS in more than ONE domain at a time

the people commenting on these forums are generally well intended individuals and they are expressing their personal opinions in the best way they CAN …

naturally when you put 1+1 together it’s not hard to see why it would seem that when a person decides to post his opinion on a subject in an online forum the other people tend to view it as ARROGANT

the fact is that the only way you CAN avoid to be considered arrogant is to not make your opinions known at ALL … one could then ask … what is the point then ? :joy:

In the short term, I don’t think that Purism can pursue any other strategy except go for the low-volume, high-priced niche market, where people are willing to pay a premium.

Purism could sell it its laptops for cheaper if it switched from custom manufacturing to Clevo base models, like most Linux laptop companies do, but then you don’t get hardware kill switches, CPUs fused to allow an unsigned BIOS/UEFI and TPM chips. For a Clevo model laptop, people wouldn’t not be willing to pay a premium, so how do you pay for 3 developers of PureOS and 1 developer of Coreboot, when you are selling at standard prices?

System76 managed to get to high enough volume that it can afford to develop its own distro and pay for a Coreboot developer, but it took System76 12 years to get big enough so that it could maintain its own distro and 13 years till it could hire its own Coreboot developer.

Just to make up some numbers, let’s guesstimate that System76 sells 5 times as many laptops as Purism, so System76 can charge a $100 markup per laptop, whereas Purism needs to charge a $500 mark-up just to employ the same number of software developers to maintain their distros and Coreboot ports.

With the Librem 5, I have often wondered it Purism shouldn’t have been less ambitious in version 1 of the phone that it could have sold for less. For example, Purism could have done this:
Version 1 for $400: Snapdragon SoC and UBports’ Ubuntu Touch (no hardware kill switches, no lifetime updates, no RYF certification, and no open schematics because of Qualcomm’s copyright over reference designs),
Version 2 for $500: NXP i.MX 8M Quad with hardware kill switches and UBports,
Version 3 for $500: NXP i.MX 8M Plus with hardware kill switches, PureOS/Phosh and OpenPGP card slot

In retrospect, it would have been much less risky and probably a better business plan for Purism to have implemented the Librem 5 in three versions, and it would have avoided the public relations nightmare of being 19+ months behind schedule. However, Purism couldn’t have charged much for version 1 of the phone, because it has no compelling features that make it better than a Sony Xperia with SailfishOS. It also would have meant pouring a lot of investment into UBports, which is is a huge code base of siloed tech and is going to be hard to maintain over the long term, so you can’t promise lifetime software updates. Then, you have to abandon all that investment in UBports for something more maintainable and you are going to piss off a lot of users who have grown accustomed to UBports.

I honestly don’t know if Purism used the right strategy in deciding to implement everything in version 1 of the phone at a very high selling price, rather than implement the phone in stages at a lower price that would have generated more volume. The issue is that Purism would be operating with planned obsolescence and would receive a lot of criticism. The people who invested in versions 1 and 2 would be angry that their platform had been abandoned after a couple years.

1 Like

Not to mention having to maintain support of an additional operating system while at the same time trying to develop their own unique one. If they were to only focus on one at a time, the gap between your version 2 and version 3 would be enormous, possibly (probably) too long to sustain interest.

Personally, I think they did what they had to do. Your suggestion, to me, seems like it would be a logistical nightmare.

I can see why one would think the way Purism attempted to enter the smartphone market was foolish. I certainly used to agree. But now that I think about it, the method @amosbatto is suggesting just wouldn’t have differentiated their offerings from say a Fairphone 3 with on it enough. If privacy is your goal, there are MUCH better solutions available right now.

That the L5 was presented with so little apparent compromise in mind was one of the key ingredients to it seeing such positive returns on the crowd funding. It is a phone running mainline Linux, that happens to also have kill switches, and hardware that can be audited, etc. It is to the privacy based phone that does not exist today.

It is one niche that is not filled. And if executed properly could be the niche that sees Purism widely successful. Long road still, but continued progress means we should all remain very hopeful.

1 Like

If Purism were to make it work, the company would have to develop PureOS/Phosh while launching phones with UBports. Purism would have to hide its intentions during versions 1 and 2, since the UBports community would feel used and the users wouldn’t want to buy a phone if they thought that Purism wasn’t going to keep supporting the product. Plus, it would violate Purism’s ethos of doing software development in public. Maybe Purism could have presented its PureOS/Phosh development as an experiment, but it would still be hard to hide its true intentions from the buyers of version 1 and version 2.

What I’m trying to show is that all paths that Purism could have chosen to develop a Linux phone had serious problems/challenges. Any way that Purism tried to do it, the company would have been pilloried by the community and there would be critics lambasting the company at r/Purism.

No rational company would try to develop a Linux phone, after witnessing the failures of MonteVista/Motorola with EZX Linux+Qtopia, Nokia with Maemo, Nokia/Intel with Meego, Palm/HP with WebOS, Samsung with Bada OS, Intel/Samsung with Tizen, Canonical with Ubuntu Touch, Mozilla with Firefox OS, and Jolla with Sailfish OS. Android forks such as Cyanogen OS, Alibaba’s Alliyun OS and Yandex.kit never had much commercial success, and Amazon’s Fire Phone with Fire OS was an utter flop. Even Microsoft decided that its Windows Mobile couldn’t compete with the Android and iOS duopoly and threw in the towel.

From a business perspective, the only rational way to produce a Linux phone would be to invest the least possible and do almost no Linux software development, which is what PINE64’s PinePhone, Planet Computers’s Gemini and Cosmo, and the Volla Phone are doing. However, that approach doesn’t do much to help create mobile Linux as a viable alternative to Android/iOS duopoly.

I decided to support Purism, precisely because it was willing to undertake a project that no “rational” company would attempt, but that means high prices to pay for development and enduring many delays along the way.


And that is saying something because Microsoft’s global advertising budget for 1 day is enough to fund the whole development of the Librem 5. Totally made-up number :slight_smile: but you get the idea.

When I saw what Purism was trying to do several years ago, I did some research, thought that even though others had failed, that they had some experience with developing hardware with Linux OS, and their focus on privacy, I made the decision to invest in the future and put my money on the table, not to buy a Linux phone. I thought their chances for success had was better not just because of their experience with their hardware and software experience in the laptop world, but because they would carry the torch passed on by the others who had tried before. And IMHO they have exceeded my expectations by passing on what they have been doing by putting what they have been working on both software and hardware out there to let others be able to benefit from their hard work. I know of this work as in the 1980s up thru 2007 I worked with Unix BSD ending working with Moto Unix and with Linux servers and on teams developing hardware and software before burning out and changing careers. So getting back to several years ago I plopped down my money not to buy a Librem 5, but to support Purism in their dev process. Now to be quite frank I hoped that they would succeed, because having a Linux computer in my pocket under my control (private and a user replaceable battery was a big plus for me), was better for my lifestyle, but in the back of my mind I knew that even if they failed (which with all that has happened up to now and they are still going strong I’m not nor even in the past second guessed them since I’ve worked in dev and know what hurdles may need to be jumped) I’ve been happy to be a supporter of the continuing process to eventually have a Linux phone. And knowing where we are in this process, that is in Linux history, I’m not only not worried about when I receive the phone, but even if! This is, in the future, looking back a contribution towards a private Linux future that will eventually arrive. Perseverance and Patience and that future will arrive!