Ok, putting of my “purism” mantle to give a personal opinion on this. And please consider what I am about to say next as my personal opinion, as in “my opinions are my own and do not reflect on any organization that I am a member of”.
So please do not interpret this as an official reply from purism, it is my personal opinion.
The Librem 5 phone costs $700 because you are not just financing a the production of hardware, for other external community projects to build software on top of that.
You are financing a full team of developers paid full time to develop a full stack hardware and software components. From the hardware to kernel work that is upstreamed to operating system, to applications, that are used on that stack, that is as much as possible upstreamed and made available for other projects to work from.
Some examples of that:
Creating a library (
libhandy), that allows to make pre existing linux GTK applications into adaptive applications that can be used on a phone and tablet.
This library has been extremely influential in the development of GTK applications in the last few years and in applications made with the Linux phone in mind, made by several groups and developers.
Upstreaming work for modemmanager to support audio calls and in the future mms
Creating a mobile shell (phosh) based in GNOME session, that is adaptive and can be used in Linux phones, tablets and even desktops.
By the way this shell phosh, which is free, is the default shell in several community edition Operating Systems that have or will ship with the pinephone (PostmarketOS, Mobian, Manjaro).
Large part of the development of that shell was made by purism developers paid with those $700 that a Librem 5 costs.
Yes, postmarketOS developers and from other projects are making contributes to phosh which is wonderfull.
- Creating or modifying applications to serve as the base apps of a phone; calls app, chat app, making the default browser (epiphany) adaptive for a phone screen. These are some examples.
This work was also made with purism developers paid by those $700 that the Librem 5 phone costs.
And again this work we did trickled down to some of the community projects that are working on images for the pinephone.
So by buying a Librem 5 for $700, you are not just helping the development of a full stack, hardware, operating systems and apps, and also allowing a group of developers the conditions to work on it full time.
You are also helping some of the community editions and operating systems for the Pinephone
The pinephone model is to develop the hardware and then work with the community projects for those projects to do the software work. This lowers their production costs. And some of those community projects have benefited of the work made by Purism developers paid by the costs of the Librem 5 phone.
This last part does not annoy me at all. Hey it’s all free software, please use it, fork it, upstream changes, make use of it. Have fun breaking it and filling bug reports.
That is part of our mission, Free software.
But this analysis of, project A managed to do it with less because their model is cheaper than project B, seems to me a bit simplistic.
There are other factors at play.