Continuing the discussion from Still no hope for EU reseller?:
To not derail the EU reseller thread further, i am starting a new thread here about how to grow mobile Linux so other phone makers will adopt it.
The issue is not the size of the potential market (which is quite large in my opinion). Rather, the issue is convincing other phone makers that they can make a profit and people will pay for mobile Linux, and I think the only way to do that is for the Librem 5 to be successful in the marketplace. The PinePhone will also help, but most profits lie in the high-end models (like the iPhone and Samsung S/Note-series), so Purism has to demonstrate that there is demand in that segment to attract other phone makers to the market.
As I have noted before, we don’t have to worry about Librem 5 competitors–nobody else is going to make a phone that runs on 100% free software, has hardware kill switches and provides free/open schematics. Everyone else is going to use an integrated mobile SoC like the Snapdragon, Exynos or MediaTek Helios, which prevents those 3 things.
PINE64 says that it will make a future phone based on a 22nm 4-core SoC (which I’m pretty sure is the Rockchip RK3530), but first PINE64 will make an SBC and I don’t think PINE64 will hire kernel developers to make this happen quickly. We can be reasonably certain that Librem 5 will have no competitors in its market niche for the next 3-4 years.
So far, we have only had phones like Planet Computers Gemini and Cosmo, the Sony Xperia X/XA2/10 and Fairphone 2, where Linux is a secondary option that people can install on their own or is offered for sale by third parties. The Volla Phone is moving Linux to being one of the OS options that can be selected when ordering the phone.
If the Librem 5 is successful, I foresee other phone makers starting offering Linux as one of the OS options on a few select models when ordering them online. They will be cautious and hedge their bets on mobile Linux, so they can fall back on their Android sales if the Linux option fails. They will probably go with either Sailfish OS or Phosh, as the best available option. I think that Purism can facilitate this in two ways:
- Get Phosh adopted as an official GNOME project and every major distro to package it, so it is no longer perceived as being controlled exclusively by Purism.
- Offer to provide commercial support for Linux/Phosh like Canonical offered support for laptop makers selling Ubuntu preinstalled, because many phone makers won’t use an OS if they don’t think it is properly supported.
Once Linux is offered as an option for phone buyers, we need customer demand to demonstrate to the phone makers that there is demand for the Linux option and people will pay for it. Although we probably won’t care for that first phone with a Linux option which is offered by a company like Sony, OnePlus or Fairphone, we need it to sell well.
It will be an extra cost to support two OSes, and phone makers won’t continue offering mobile Linux as one of the options if they see others failing at it. That is why is is so important that Phosh be ready in a couple years time when a phone maker like Sony or OnePlus takes a chance on offering it, because if that first phone maker fails at mobile Linux, it will scare the others from trying Linux as an option.