Smartphone as a service


#1

Maybe this isn’t the right place for this question, but I’m also interested in other peoples view on this.
I strongly believe in the works of Purism, PINE and others to bring a open device to consumers. I am a bit worried though that in the future they might fall in the same trap as most manufacturers - the need for selling new devices to keep the company alive. (Maybe this is stated somewhere what their mission is - I’d be happy if someone can point that out.)
I use most of my hardware to a point where it isn’t possible to use anymore. (The iphone 3GS was ditched just a couple of years ago, because I couldn’t update some critical apps)

So for me its totally reasonable to help keep a company I believe in alive, without having to buy stuff from them all the time. But sure, I want to own the hardware - that is important - but pay something upfront and then pay a monthly fee to have the “smartphone” service available - spare parts, repairs and support - obviously some parts need some special conditions, like the screen, maybe I’ll need to pay 75% of the cost if the screen break.

I can also see a advantage paying a small fee now when a lot of features isn’t there yet - but Purism can raise the fee whenever new (agreed on beforehand of course) features is released.

I know there are some challanges in the hardware though, look at Fairphone, they released their FP1 as an repairable and sustainable option 2013, and it is already end of life and they’ve then released FP2 and FP3.
So I think this need to be within the agreement - in the case of supply issues the customer should not have to buy a new phone, nor pay a extra fee for an upgrade. (That the customer don’t want anyway - at least not me.)
This will force Purism to work closely with its suppliers and might even join forces with other manufacturers (PINE, FP etc?) to keep some hardware alive - which I feel would be a good thing in a wider sense. But naturally, the fee should represent this in a reasonable matter.

I find it wonderful that Purism have the guts to sell a barely working phone, made in a democratic country, for $2000. For me it is just a bit too much right now, but for a slightly higher fee I would love to slowly change my worn out hardware-part to a “democratic” counterpart.

For sure, I don’t understand the full implications of this. But I would love to see someone give it a try, I’m willing to take some economic risk.

Would love that someone from Purism gave their view on this, but anyone feel free to comment whether this would be something viable for you.


#2

I don’t think I will be able to find the places in which it has been said, but Purism has stated that their intent is for you to be able to use your device until it simply does not function any more. Every Librem phone will receive all software updates - at no point will the first models be locked out.

Since Purism is a Social Purpose Company, it is actually in their corporate foundation to prioritize openness and consumer privacy above profit. In particular,

The Corporation will design and manufacture hardware that respects users’ rights to privacy, security, and freedom

As I interpret it, they must support the early devices (which again, they have also expressed their intention of in various places here and there).

But you are right, they need a profit to stay alive. I would also be willing to pay some sort of “support subscription” type thing to help keep them afloat. At the moment, I think they best you can do is subscribe to Librem One. That way they at least get a monthly subscription from you (and you get access to some services).

Other people have also expressed interest in donating towards specific efforts, so I think it is somewhere on Purism’s radar, though maybe not very high.


#3

I think the software won’t be an issue, though the hardware might. Consider if whomever makes the cellular modem quits making the current model, and then a new modem is found that is suitable for use, but uses a different interface. Let’s say purism opts for that modem, and introduces it in their new model of the L5 that has design changes as a result of this new hardware. After they sell all of the old stuff off, there’s no real reason to maintain whatever contracts they have with the manufacturers of the old stuff, so there could be a situation that arises such that your old phone will break somehow and the solution will be to buy a new phone.

The example may be a bit of a stretch, but there could be legitimate reasons for “requiring” the purchase of new hardware. Hopefully it won’t ever come to that, but it’s worth looking into if your old L5 or its replacement parts ever stop being sold.


#4

Your response make much sense, I fully understand the complexities in hardware interfaces.

Yes that is true, but I would like to shift the responsibility for this towards the manufacturer and away from the consumer. Because as a end user I have no power - at all - to make Apple/Samsung not upgrading their phones, but if doing so would end a contract between me and my “Smartphone provider” they would have both incentives and some power to keep the hardware. And if it proves to be impossible, they need to upgrade my phone to keep the contract. (As I mentioned, “the fee should represent this in a reasonable matter”)


#5

Ah, I see now. I do like that idea.


#6

They are probably more focused on getting v1 out the door and meeting their existing commitments. As a customer, that is likewise what I am more focused on i.e. getting v1 in my door.

I think hardware component obsolescence is an extremely difficult area because Purism does not control the supply chain and nor are they anywhere near big enough to do so.

As a point solution for that, I wonder whether some kind of bolt-on via the USB-C connector could extend the life of the device. (The cellular kill switch would stop working though. So the bolt-on would need its own kill switch.)


#7

Perhaps they would consider adding a ‘concierge’ tier to librem one that would include some sort of insurance/infinite warranty like you touched on. Ooh oohh!, and they could throw in a VPS on that tier too.


#8

Purism has a good track record of not abandoning old devices (coreboot 4.11: Leaving No Librem Behind), so from that perspective I don’t see a need to make an offer that somehow binds them to that promise - ultimately they could still just terminate such a service contract, and that would even look worse on them.
Besides, if they offered such a thing, flame-wars would ensue how Purism “basically offers a pricy, useless service contract that nobody needs because you can install any Linux you want for free” …

How do I know? Well, that already happened, because Purism already offers “Librem as a service”, as @DemBeesDoneStolenAll just mentioned. While it is not a hardware service, this is essentially the way how Purism would like to generate a reliable source of income, apart from hardware sales.
So, even if you don’t have a need to use (all of) these services, this is a simple way of showing support on a subscription base.

And I think it is good the way it is set up. There is absolutely no force applied on the user to subscribe. Assuming they would add “premium hardware support” to the list, it would have a bad taste to many, as it would be/seem like a downgrade for those who don’t sign up.

So, the philosophy seems to be “buy a device with ‘lifetime’ support, and if you want to show your continued appreciation, get our service bundle”.


#9

hello and welcome ! i see this account is quite ‘fresh’ … maybe you’ve been here before …

i don’t understand what exactly is the problem with the current way of doing things ? the way you’ve worded it is suggestive that you fear something MIGHT happen … i see no indication of that happening NOW … do you know something we don’t ?

as you’ve said Purism’s way of doing things is quite different from how other manufacturers like to do things … there is no compulsion here so as long as there is an incentive and people keep buying hardware and contributing to the software/support part of this business things will slowly but surely move forward or at LEAST not BACKWARD :sweat_smile:

we haven’t even received our Evergreen L5 batch so what is the ACTUAL problem ? imo this is a little to early to think about “securing” the future … is there such a thing ?


#10

Ah, but that’s the beauty of the current system. The modem is on an M.2 card attached via the standard USB interface. You can replace the modem yourself, and it’ll be internal. This means that at some point in the future, your Librem 5 can be updated to run on 5G networks by virtue of you just buying a new modem and sticking it in.

You won’t have the 26 GHz (aka. “mmWave”) high-speed connections, but that sucks anyway because it has about the same range as you physically shouting and is stopped by things like brick walls, cars and your hand.


#11

For sure but that wasn’t the premise of the hypothetical in the post that I replied to.

You are always free to take out the existing M.2 card and put in another one. However does the new card meet the same stringent purity requirements? Maybe you accept the compromise. Maybe you don’t.

At one time there were questions as to whether that is USB 2.0 or USB 3.x - which could therefore also impact on how viable a hypothetical M.2 5G card is. I don’t remember what the answer was.


#12

The phrase I looked at from the original post was “I use most of my hardware to a point where it isn’t possible to use anymore”, which I took to mean “it is no longer compatible with any of the mobile phone networks”. I didn’t really consider the binary blob issues.

Assuming that it’s USB 2.0 and that the current link is completely saturated, you won’t get any faster. However, it will still work (again, assuming that USB links for M.2 remain backwards compatible as they are for normal cables) - which is the important part here, when LTE gets switched off in 25 (?) years.


#13

Yes, it should do. So if the 4G network is being shut down and the choice is 5G (or higher) - or nothing - then you can use it. It just won’t be anywhere near the speed that it is fully capable of.


#14

So for me its totally reasonable to help keep a company I believe in alive, without having to buy stuff from them all the time.

I don’t know anything about electronics and computing but would it be possible that, based on its experience with laptops and LIBREM 5, PURISM could build a tablet with LIBREM 5 hardware and laptops?


#15

hang around and keep an eye on the forums/blog/products-page and you will find out if there is a pre-order for that … right now it isn’t and the FOCUS is giving birth to the L5 without an emergency C section … the head is out it just needs a little push …


#16

Possible? I would think so.

Going to happen? I am not aware that Purism has said anything but it would be hard to believe that it is not something that they would at least be thinking about. I believe that they were previously doing something with a tablet but that maybe that went “on hold” when they started work on the Librem 5. Once the L5 is born, hopefully they will pick up the tablet project. Assuming that the L5 is a success, I would definitely be a potential customer / backer for a tablet (Librem 10? - yeah I’m putting in a plug for a 10" screen).

See also: Your Purism products wish list if you wish to express interest.


#17

I believe the industry as a whole is moving towards “subscriptions” for hardware, a rent-seeking practice I find disgusting if I must be honest. Also, service isn’t a right, but property rights are. Stick to the higher legal ground wherever possible.

When you buy something, you own it. When you subscribe to something, they own it, and can terminate your access at their discretion. Reminds me of Apple. Even when you buy it it’s treated like a subscription.


#18

Yeah I also stated just that, it is important that you own the hardware.

Also I find the type of subscriptions you’re talking about to be quite disgusting, but I am even more disgusted by the amount of products the tech industry is pouring out. They don’t care anything about their 5 year old phone or whatever, they just want you to buy the new one.

If I can help Purism to stay alive without having to buy new hardware continuously, but instead give them incentives to maintain and upgrade their old then I would see that as a very sustainable option. (I have no interest in subscribing in general as proposed earlier or donate, the incentives must be clear and the amount must be relevant to the cost)
Purism has a huge challenge ahead - especially with their open source/security ambition - when their potential market is saturated and they still have this huge development team employed. Then there are 2 real options, make more products (and try to make you buy them) or remove the team and consequently - since they can’t upgrade their products - go bankrupt. (Yeah, a 3rd option could be to find new segments, but if you believe there is a market for Purism toasters then we can agree to disagree - there is a limited number of segments where Purism have realistic potential)

I work in the tech industry and our dev team is under constant pressure to work with projects that is profitable - and our market is huge compared to Purism potential market (due to their competition) - 80% of our devs work is for new segments.

Anyhow on a positive note, open source has new dynamics that show some great potential in these matters, but I don’t think one can rely on it.


#19

I don’t think market saturation is really a thing to worry about. Only if you narrow it down to the nerd niche (although still many more nerds per year are born than Librems are produced).
But that is not their (only) target demographic. I guess it is best summarized as people who want privacy and security and oppose (consciously or subconsciously) planned obsolescence and surveillance capitalism.

Besides the nerds, Purism already has security and freedom minded businesses as customers for their laptops and servers. It has also been speculated here that security minded companies, organizations and agencies might be very interested in the Librem 5 (USA).
They also want to appeal to “ordinary” people, and depending on their specific needs and how much they are held captive by unfree technology, this can already work to some extent.

The Librem 5 is undoubtedly the most ambitious project of Purism so far, but I can’t see how the team might ever need to shrink (below its current size) for the foreseeable future. Several additional product lines are already envisioned (tablets, NAS/router) or wished for by customers (desktop PCs, printers that don’t track you).

So, I guess for the next decade or two they will not feel the need to think about toasters :wink:


#20

Yes I do agree with you that people in security critical positions is a very interesting demographic for Purism to aim for.
But I am not as convinced that the Low Spec- FOSS- and High-price-demographic is a very vast one. But that is just an opinion.