Experiences in the community

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GNU/Linux Devices and Distribution

This post would attempt to share the options and the biggest issues with GNU/Linux devices.

The first one is obviously Openmoko Neofreerunner . For those who came in late I had written about Openmoko about 6 months back.

The real problem is that till date there is only one distributor of the smartphone and that is IDA systems in India. So one has to depend on him only for any servicing issues.

If one tries to relate that to say a Nokia or a Samsung device, both these are mass-market items where you can get both the devices and repaired at the corner shops. Samsung might not be so common but Nokia’s design is known by almost every corner shop so don’t have to run much to get repairs done so expenses are that much lesser and not at all.

If I look even at AMD, the chip major he has 4 partners in my city (and these guys have something like 20% of the chip market while Intel has almost all the remaining percentage with some 2-4% left for Cyrix.

Although I must say I am enthused by Herald Welte’s foray into getting a Free Software GSM baseband firmware project .

The same goes for ‘Adam’ Notion Ink . While they have not been launched in India, the suggested price is $325 which is an estimate. Please look at this wonderful blog post which tries to give a bit more idea.

I really like the Pixel Qi screen as has been showed on youtube. It reminds me of the OLPC screen I had seen couple of years ago. This had to be as the person behind it Mary Lou Jespen was at OLPC before she commercialized Pixel Qi .

The third one is DSK Mobilis which has been just shown at Cebit 2010.

All the three are impressive. The only issue I see them is scaling it up and making attractive price offers as well as having servicing centres.

For example, if Adam gives a warranty of a year or more with 15k price point many people would willingly pay as the cheapest netbook costs 20k+ and still leaves one wanting.

Openmoko I guess still needs to work on some of the software and make improvements both on hardware and scaling up and making more derivatives. The WikiReader is another good effort and just like the Nokias and Samsung they have understood that they need to have as many devices as they can having same or similar platforms (hardware vice) in order to scale up quickly.

I do hope there are entrepreneurs in Pune and elsewhere who can take these opportunities and also give people like me more options. In fact if people look then this site ARMdevices.net shares info. about lots of GNU/Linux devices which are going to hit the market in the near future.

The issues for vendors would be technology,inventory and holding price and helping users. Groups such as PLUG could very well help in exploring and expanding these markets.

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