When I ask myself ‘what might cause Purism to go dark on communications, right after announcing a new product release and then delaying shipping’, all I get is a hunch based loosely on very little information. If there are unresolved bugs in the phone that they thought could be fixed sooner but it’s taking longer than expected to fix, several of my previous assumptions might be validated. When you’re in the thick of a potential crisis that you believe that you can resolve but don’t have many answers right now, the best thing to do is to stop communicating long enough to get your bearings, create a framework of how to deal with all of the issues, and then lastly communicate. If you know you’re going to be forced to disappoint people, you tell them sooner rather than later. If you think you can fix things but you need every last minute to do it, you would probably do what they are doing.
My initial fears were that they might have run out of the cash needed to fulfill orders and were potentially hoping to fuel operations expenses by a new product release announcement and in Hope’s of creating a buying frenzy. In my mind, that scenario is very unlikely now.
In my mind, the biggest challenge to getting this product completed, is probably found in getting the phone modem/radio to work correctly. Somewhere in the OSI seven-layer model the manufacturer of the radio says something like “we only handle the bottom three layers. The rest is up to you”. Most Linux coders are very good at the top, application layers. In-between there are one or more layers that most Engineers have never ventured in to. Companies like Verizon and Google and Samsung probably do not even have more than a minimal number of Engineers who need to work on these bridging levels. They solve their issues once and the job is done for a longer-term. Their specialized knowledge is probably not taught in college and may even be considered trade secrets by their employers. Some of my friends who are Electrical Engineers express doubt when I tell them about this open-source phone project. We all know why. This dark casm between the lower hardware layers and the upper applications layers is not a journey to be made by the weak or the beginner, unless you can luck-in to hiring the one-in-a-million engineer who has experience there and who is willing to leave his well-respected and well-rewarded position with Samsung or Google, to defect, to work for an unproven start-up company which has comparatively little to offer them. This leaves Purism with a very tough nut to crack. If they can pull this off, they will have arrived at a very high, very coveted position in the Engineering community and will have changed the world. Until they do get there, I worry, and for good reason. But every investor or phone buyer of Purism knew on some level that this wouldn’t be easy. Now you know why.