OpenMoko: Software and Hardware bugs

Let’s be clear: this is not a phone (yet) for the masses, but I think it is definitely heading in that direction. It has GPS, accelerometers, GPRS, Bluetooth, WiFi and an open software stack on which practically anything could be developed. I love this phone for what it will be able to do – but it’s not there yet.

For example, one hardware bug that has come to light is a problem with the SD card clock signal quietening the GPS receivers sensitivity resulting in very poor performance of the GPS receiver when an SD card is installed. However, within two days of the fault being found, a software and hardware fix has been identified. Two Days! The software fix has already been rolled into the (daily) kernel updates, and the hardware fix has been explained. Even now they are probably working out how to offer the hardware fix to people who have already received their GTA02s. They have noted that new FRs being sent out will have the hardware fix installed. That’s great service. And to those who say “but they shipped it with a hardware fault”; it’s true, but these things happen. It’s a very early release for this phone, but the speed at which they are dealing with the issues as they arise, and the openness with which OpenMoko are being with the community is just breathtaking. Mucho kudos to OpenMoko.

I knew when I bought the phone that there would be problems with the software and that there might be problems with the hardware – it was the risk I was taking by being an early adopter. The measure of the company is how it responds and so far that has been excellent.