Where is the most interest in Linux phones?

I looked at search trends for “PinePhone” (blue), “Librem 5” (red) and “Linux phone” (yellow) in Google, which gave this graph:

As the Librem 5 and then the PinePhone started to be developed, the searches for “Linux phones” have fallen a bit, but if you add the three together, there has been a persistent interest from the public in Linux phones over time.

Searches peaked at times when the phones had something notable. The Librem 5 searches peaked in the weeks when something important happening with the phone:

  1. Oct 8, 2017: Reached its goal of $1.5 million in preorders to be funded.
  2. Sep 2, 2018: Announced that shipping would start in Apr. 2019.
  3. Dec 23, 2019: People checking if the original Q1 2019 shipping would happen.
  4. Jul 28, 2019: People checking if Q3 2019 shipping would happen.
  5. Sep 22, 2019: People checking if Aspen was shipping.
  6. Nov 24, 2019: Birch shipped.
  7. Jan 12, 2020: Pinephone “Braveheart” shipping

Public interest has fallen a lot in the Librem 5, since the week of Mar 1, 2020. I wonder what caused searches to fall in half after that week and they have stayed low ever since. Maybe it was the coronavirus.

Interest in the Pinephone has been high ever since it announced preorders for Braveheart, but it also had a dropoff in interest after the week of Mar 1, 2020.

Google_searches_Librem_5_by_region

Most of the interest in the Librem 5 and PinePhone is focused in Europe. I find it strange that there isn’t more interest in the US, given that Purism is based in San Francisco and PINE64 used to be headquartered in Freemont, California, until it moved to Hong Kong in Dec. 2019.

Librem 5 PinePhone Linux phone
Switzerland 100 Switzerland 100 Kenya 100
Finland 100 Czechia 85 Sri Lanka 72
Germany 98 Finland 85 Bangladesh 51
Austria 78 New Zealand 80 Pakistan 44
Czechia 68 Germany 73 India 41
Netherlands 65 Austria 64 South Africa 41
Sweden 64 Netherlands 62 Canada 38
Hungary 46 Norway 59 Ireland 36
Canada 45 Hungary 56 Nigeria 36
Poland 42 Denmark 53 Finland 35
Australia 40 Portugal 53 Australia 34
Denmark 37 Ireland 51 Singapore 34
France 37 Sweden 50 Morocco 33
Belgium 35 Canada 50 United States 33
Russia 32 Italy 41 Philippines 32
United States 32 Poland 39 Czechia 32
Belarus 28 France 38 Romania 31
Ukraine 27 Belgium 36 Greece 31
Spain 24 Russia 36 United Kingdom 29
United Kingdom 24 United States 35 Israel 28
Romania 22 Australia 35 Norway 28
Italy 15 Greece 32 Sweden 28
Taiwan 13 Serbia 32 Netherlands 27
Indonesia 7 Romania 32 Switzerland 27
India 6 Spain 31 Portugal 26
Brazil 5 United Kingdom 28 Malaysia 26
Bulgaria 25 Belgium 21
Ukraine 18 Egypt 21
Philippines 16 Austria 20
Taiwan 12 Germany 19
Malaysia 12 Poland 16
India 9 France 13
Indonesia 9 Italy 13
Brazil 7 Spain 12
Mexico 6 Indonesia 12
Japan 6 Mexico 11
Turkey 5 Ukraine 11
Russia 10
Brazil 7
Argentina 7
Turkey 6
Vietnam 6
Japan 2

Based on Google searches, it looks like the PinePhone and Librem 5 phone are mostly selling in the same European, North American and Australian countries, but the PinePhone’s lower price allows it to extend its market to more low-income countries in Asia than the Librem 5.

It doesn’t surprise me that there is so little interest in Asia, Africa and Latin America, because most people in those parts of the world don’t buy their phones online. Japan and South Korea are also closed phone markets where people only buy phones from the domestic brands, so they don’t even think to order a phone from foreign companies like PINE64 and Purism. In my experience, ordering anything online in Latin America is risky and involves a lot of delays getting it through customs.

What is fascinating is the interest in the “Linux phone” in some African and Asian countries. What this suggests is that there might be a market for Linux phones in the developing world, which surprises me. The problem is that it has to be sold offline, and that simply doesn’t work for niche tech-enthusiast phones.

Once Linux phones get established as a recognizable category of phones, I wonder if we are going to see more people using them in places where there is more government surveillance. I can definitely see a market for them among libertarians in the US, but they won’t be the early adopters. Libertarians adopted cryptocurrencies, whereas leftist activists didn’t in the US, so we will probably see the same tendency with the adoption of Linux phones. Sadly, I doubt that Linux phones will sell in China, because the Chinese government won’t look favorably on privacy phones with hardware kill switches. One untapped market is environmentalists. Both the Librem 5 and PinePhone will have a longevity that no Android phone can match in terms of software updates, but environmentalists are not early adopters.

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Perhaps because of bad and nontransparent communication with the community? Because of an ongoing line of delays?

Perhaps because Todd used to bragg that purism will be shipping 50,000 librem5 in Q1 2020. And actually they haven’t shipped nearly any phone. Instead pine has shipped several thousands of phones and continues to do so…

Cough cough https://shop.fairphone.com/gb_en/?___store=gb_en. Both the L5 and pinephone don’t seem great as environmentally friendly yet. Both will have significant struggle against water damage as seen with the PP already. Please do not respond to this comment with ‘a removable back of a phone is the reason of this’ as phones with removable backs can and have had good water resistance.

The battery of the PP is size of a J7 samsung battery and you can buy some other parts of the phone like a motherboard of the phone and such and the L5 I think will have battery and a few other things but both are small compared to the fairphone here: https://shop.fairphone.com/gb_en/spare-parts.

Furthermore, the number of people willing to switch OS from say windows to macOS let alone to linux is already very small and there are even fewer who would want to switch to an OS on a mobile phone that doesn’t have all the applications they want and that instant snappiness they fully expect even when they are running say 10 apps with a movie downloading from a torrent with 50 tabs open in their browser and are now on a phone call. The point I am trying to make is that linux OSs and phones that come with linux preinstalled simply have not matured anywhere near what the average person would expect a phone to be able to do despite the rapid improvement in the last few years and even months. There are very few environmentalists that happen to be comfortable of going to this platform and would rather stay on a fairphone. Also, people expect the camera quality as a minimum now to be as good as an iphone 6 which both of these phones are nowhere near. The phones aren’t dev kits but are based heavily at early developers.

Once these phones are properly stable, take good enough photos, the L5 is as thin as a PP, longer battery life than 8 hours (with no disabled functionality like in power tests purism showed) and have good cell speeds, I think that wouldn’t be when all people see it as an option but instead as an option for government and possibly some journalists and military groups.

Honestly, I don’t always want to be pessimistic which is what most people around me describe me as in my life but even if either of these phones had tonnes of features but still came with linux preinstalled like UBports, postmarket or pureOS (or whatever name of it is for the phone version), I do not think people will want to buy it mainly because of app support. If anbox isn’t fully functioning with practically no issues and is somehow interwoven with the application store on the phone by default, people simply will not switch.

Another thing to consider is price which the PP is very good for and may come up in developing countries more if it has some certain protections against water damage, sand etc but the L5 has practically no chance in that at all and I have discussed price of the L5 with various people here on the forums and the price makes sense for the development of the software and how much they had to think about the hardware but it simply won’t sell to most people. Furthermore, there are many people who do not care about security and privacy or these phones are still too expensive for them and have to resort to using maybe not a cheap android phone which may still be considered as too expensive for them but instead a dumb phone running KaiOS which is getting a lot of attention since it can run on basically nothing and supports popular services like whatsapp which if you do not know is very very popular in developing countries.

I kind of rambled on and on so I hope I made some sense. Best case scenario for linux phones is that it is banned in countries where there is high surveillance, it becomes as stable as your average linux desktops OS and people who use linux on desktop will feel comfortable to use a linux phone, it is a little more pricey than those really cheap android phones and you will almost definitely have to use web apps rather than full fledged applications unless google happened to not be a poopoo and somehow gave support for apks to work well with anbox.

Last note I will like to put is that I have a lot of friends from countries from western Asia and they are pretty cool techy people and they hate IOS and can just about tolerate android and most placed linux on all their computers but I doubt they are anywhere near willing to spend the amount of money the L5 and the PP are asking for :frowning:

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I haven’t been paying a lot of attention but I thought they were transparent.

I thought they were sending out emails to buyers asking whether they want these early versions or to ship to them on evergreen and you also have to remember that a majority of these phones are manufactured in China and people think China is all good for shipping and fabrication but they are having some problems and shipping companies are having even bigger issues with an example being Asendia which I am still waiting on to ship my PP from China to the UK with them only able to ship to ‘France, Switzerland, Brazil and Australia’ shown on https://forum.pine64.org/showthread.php?tid=9942. You can get quicker if you upgrade to DHL but I don’t think I will ever be willing to spend a total of 30 USD for shipping in my life.

To conclude, try to be a bit patient and email the purism team on updates if you are so curious or ask them via email to start a forum post like PINE64 who update each time there is a new development in shipping information with a date stamp.

It occurred to me that both Purism and PINE64 only provide information in English about their products, and that heavily influences interest in Linux phone. In countries like Switzerland, Finland and Germany, most youth learn English in school, whereas fewer know English in France, Spain and Italy, so that may explain the lower interest in Southern Europe compared to Northern Europe. Still, it is noticeable that Northern Europe is more interested in Linux phones than the US and the UK.

9 of the top 10 countries where there is the highest interest in a “Linux phone” are old British colonies. Obviously using the word “phone” is going to limit the global searches to filter for countries where English is the written language. However I find it fascinating that interest in a “Linux phone” is highest not in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, where Europeans dominated, but countries like Kenya, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and South Africa, which tells me that Linux can appeal on the grounds of technological independence and decolonization. I see this same pattern in Latin America, where Linux PCs were pushed as a means of “technological sovereignty” and “decolonization”.

Another thing that surprises me is the interest in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in the Librem 5, since most people don’t speak English in those countries and the wages are lower, so the Librem 5 would be comparatively expensive. I wonder if people from the old USSR are more acutely aware of the dangers of government surveillance.

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The Soviet government killed and imprisoned millions of dissidents. Now, in the countries of the former USSR that you mentioned, the authorities at various levels are also killing, maiming and imprisoning people who oppose its abuses. But this is no longer such a massive terror as in Soviet times, but more selectively, primarily against independent journalists, entrepreneurs and politically active citizens. But to be interested in Linux phones, these people also need to know about Linux, which is far from the case. Limited incomes also matter, but people in conflict with the authorities have to choose between either expensive security or constant risk.

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Do you have any reference to “country xyz people do not speak English”? I mean my parents in Germany learned Russian. This generation has many people without English skills. But all younger people learn it in school and crow up with internet. Many France people know how to speak English, but they don’t want to. And many Russian people like to speak in there native Language, but also communicate with people around the world in English.
I think time has changed.

By the way: The Librem 5 is also for me too expensive. But I bought it. Smartphones are the most critical devices for safety and freedom and here in Germany our Government tries aggressively to create laws to track everyone to every time without any reason and in additional to hack there devices. Same happens to other EU countries. I want to be a part of people who counter these strategies. There are really good reasons to pay more to such developments.

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My english is not to good. I newer learn in school. I learning as autodidact, and a several months private school. But, i am have 20+ years experience in system adminiatration (Win/Linux) and network (Cisco) and a little storage (3par) and i can develop in C/C++, C#, Python, Bash, and a little PowerShell.
These task required the english skill, but i dont have a good english.
I can read the technical documents, and i can write a letter or a question, but my grammar is… You can see. :slight_smile:
The cause of this monolog this: I think, the search term “linux phone” is required the linux (IT) skills, and the linux/IT skills is required the english skill. The IT worker must be read man pages, search solutions and search troubleshooting info in google, stackoverflow, MSDN, etc.
Anybody search “Linux phone”, i think, he/she is have english skills. This is not depend to the country. IMHO
(I am a Hungarian guy)

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Tell your friends that a “pessimist” is a optimist with experience.

Thanks for the …“rambled on and on…” since it helps prevent someone like myself from asking a lot of questions.

From the web site, I see the price is $799.00 somewhere, and "in the “U.S. $1,999.00” and a 6 month wait.

But 6 months of waiting… $2k price tag, and so few features = very high price to pay for a little privacy. But it’s very tempting to be able take some privacy with me at times while leaving behind my Google leash.

Thnaks,
~s~

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I believe the psychological impact of coronavirus ‘Lockdown’ reduced my appetite for thinking about the Librem 5 and a lot of other topics, during March. But, then again, there is also the factor that we pretty much knew at that point what the Librem 5 was going to look like and what features it was going to have, so I saw less reason to keep looking for news.

Yes, that is why the PinePhone has overtaken the Librem 5 in public interest. But both the Librem 5 and the PinePhone had a noticeable dropoff in Google searches after the week of March 1-7. Considering that PinePhone Community Edition: UBports started preorders on April 1 and is now shipping, and the postmarketOS version just started taking preorders, it is strange the PinePhone has seen a drop off in public interest.

On the question of transparency, I think that Purism has always been transparent with its software development and its software updates. It is the hardware development which is less transparent, because its hardware development isn’t done in public like its software development. There are critical things that I still don’t know, like whether there will be fast charging (it looks like there are chips for fast charging) or what model of Samsung cameras we will have.

People buying the Fairphone and ShiftPhone get a normal Android phone, so they don’t have to spend their time reporting bugs and dealing with years of software development. The PinePhone and Librem 5 is going to be a very different experience for the next year or two, and I don’t think most environmentalists care enough about tech to endure the pain of being early adopters. For example, people buying Braveheart and CE: UBports have to get out the soldering iron to fix the bug with data over the USB-C port and everyone seems to be OK with that.

PINE64 sells all the parts for Braveheart, which is really amazing since it was a dev version. I’m really hoping Purism can be as good as PINE64 and Fairphone in terms of selling parts. Actually, I think that the best model is ShiftPhone, because it designs its phones to be backward compatible, so it only has to stock parts for the latest model and those parts can be used in the older versions of the phone. That way you get upgradeable phones, but it means that you can’t change the basic design. I would like to see Fir be backward compatible with Evergreen, so that people can put a Fir PCB in Evergreen.

It is hard to make an easily repairable phone that is water-resistant, because either you have to close everything with glue or you have to put rubber gaskets around everything and use screws to hold the parts tightly together, which takes more space, is heavier and costs more. Because the Librem 5 has an extra internal cover over its PCB, it should be a little more splash resistant than the PinePhone. The Fairphone 2 and 3 aren’t water resistant either, but they did make some effort to keep out water and dust.

See: https://jakubmarian.com/map-of-the-percentage-of-people-speaking-english-in-the-eu-by-country/

In Switzerland, most people speak English, a high percentage order their phones online and there is high income, so all these factors help explain why Switzerland is number 1 for both the Librem 5 and PinePhone. It doesn’t hurt that Switzerland has a history of political independence and distrust of centralized authority, so it makes sense to me that the Swiss would be seek freedom from the Android/iOS duopoly and the spying power of Google, Facebook, etc.

Finland, the country with the second highest interest in Linux phones, is similar to Switzerland. It refused to join NATO and seems to value its independence more than other European countries, plus it was the birthplace of Linus Torvalds.

At this point, most people are not buying Linux phones as their primary phones, so this is essentially a luxury purchase, so the Linux phone market has to start in high income countries, where people can afford to spend on early-adopter tech.

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Uhh, Hungary is the last. This is shame for me… But i am “old”, because i am 42 years old.
The younger generations is more perfect in english. The older generations (my parents) never learn english. The really young generation, the 15-25 years old people mostly fluent in english.

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You highly exaggerate with “The Soviet government killed and imprisoned millions of dissidents”. No country has more prisoners, both absolute and as % of the population, than the USA. Even worse, the country chases aggressively foreign journalists who reveal war crimes (example Assange: Australian). This type of behavior from western governments makes me opt for a secure phone like L5.

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Actually both of you are right. 18 million Russians were sent to the gulag between 1930 and 1953. There was a brief time during the 1990s, when foreign researchers were allowed in the Russian state archives, and they estimate that between 1.5 and 1.7 million Russians died in the gulag.

The US currently has 2.12 million people in jail, which is more than any other country, and 655 people in jail per 100,000 inhabitants, which is the highest incarceration rate in the world, according to Wikipedia.

Of course, there some debate about how to count prisoners. As that same Wikipedia article notes, There are 1.7 million convicted prisoners in China, but 2.3 million people are in jails and a million or more Uyghurs are jailed in “reeducation camps”. Even if we say 3.3 million Chinese are in jail, the US still has a significantly higher incarceration rate than China. But if we are only counting dissidents, China has far more dissidents in jail.

Whether it is 26 journalists being murdered in Russia under Putin’s reign, the US holding the whistleblower Bradley Manning under conditions that a UN official has called torture and surveilling millions of Americans in violation of the 4th amendment, or China implementing facial recognition cameras on a massive scale, I think we can all agree that it is evil. People need ways to fight back against surveillance by big brother (the government) and little brother (corporations that feed data to the government).

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There’s also the inevitability that COVID was going to cause further delays and disruptions (for both phones, in fact for just about any technology item).

Why search when you already know what the answer is going to be? :frowning:

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oh yeah ! perhaps it’s not “the best” to call it “the Soviet government” but maybe just ANY Satanic-government-organisation on the planet … however for accuracy and historical reasons it’s MANDATORY to state the geographic position and time period that certain EVIL behavior was recorded …

by the way, skip forward to 2020, and AT LEAST half of the world population is under “lockdown” … i believe we can agree that the tendency is to escalate EVIL - the contrary is - sadly - an exception not the rule …

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True, but the number of prisoners doesn’t tell the whole story. The USA has almost no political prisoners or disappeared persons as there were in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, and are in China, North Korea and Cuba. Our record is among the best in history in that regard. Regrettably, there are many who are imprisoned for non-violent “crimes”, accounting for the vast majority of those imprisoned. No bueno!

That, again very regrettably, is true, but essentially un-American. Largely a result of “progressives” in office for the last 130 years, it must be reversed. If there is ever again an American civil war, turning back “progressivism” will be the reason.

Apologies. I’m interested in a Linux phone (I might even buy a PinePhone to complement my L5), as are most forum users. That’s the important thing. In term of human rights, all of our governments are a long way from perfect!

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The name “Soviet government” refers to a specific case, but the general trend is that without effective control by society, any government becomes a despot. Historical example - Germany 1933-1945, literary example - “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. Therefore, anything that helps to limit the appetites of the authorities and preserve the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens is positive and worthy of full support. This, in particular, Purism and similar companies.

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True, but the number of prisoners doesn’t tell the whole story. The USA has almost no political prisoners

This is a matter of definition: 40% of US prisoners are black (blacks are only 13% of the population). They can be classified as political prisoners but not under US law. Dissidents, where possible, are escaping to other countries: during de colonial Vietnam war to Canada and now to Russia (e.g. Edward Snowden). This shows that even in a democraty people have to be careful of what to hide from the government. Then there is this indefinite incarceration of “foreign combatants” without any form of due process in Gitmo. How not can you classify this as political prisoners?
I personally would not classify chasing foriegn journalists/publishers as “un-American”. It’s a symptom of declining morals of a government and it can happen everywhere. This is not bound to a specific ideology or form of government. Therefore protecting our privacy cannot be understated.

This type of government behavior is the reason for the high interest in Linux phones in many western democratic countries.

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