[svlug] 3G for smartphones has "monstrous patent issues"

Chris DiBona cdibona at gmail.com
Mon Apr 6 15:08:47 PDT 2009

I thought they based their reference design on some gps unit they
added a radio to. It had a lot of electronics that could have been
combined in a modern system on chip (like the msm7k on the g-1) so
reworking the board could have just been too costly when compared to
starting anew. I don't know what their finances look like, but the
patent charges, no matter how odious, isn't usually the hard part.
They can be very odious to free software people though.

To give you some insight, the android is basically sub 400$ each in
quantity wholesale (and going down all the time, as we have serious
quantities) , so for the open moko to be $500 isn't so far off, but
seems expensive given what you get, meaning no keyboard, no
complicated hinge, and they have a fairly roomy case, which was pretty
thick. The screen isn't anything special, either, what with that
sthink bezel around it. So in my mind mechanicals don't justify a
wholesale, or even retail, of 500$.

That said, there are plenty of sub 10k quantity phones and devices
like phones out there that cost way less.


On Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 2:41 PM, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> Quoting Chris DiBona (cdibona at gmail.com):
>> It is worth pointing out that the patent fees are usually built into
>> the bill of materials at teh factory, and usually includes radio,
>> codec and other patents on the device.
> Good point.  Thanks.
> The OpenMoko guy guestimated that adding circuitry for 3G would add
> $200 to the existing pretty-steep cost ($300 min.) of the GTA02 =
> FreeRunner, and would be feasible only if there were a minimum order of
> 50,000 units.  (They've sold a bit over 10k FreeRunners, total.)
> Actually, I'm not sure about that $200 figure.  Raster (yeah, our
> Raster) was quoting it on the OpenMoko "community" list, but I don't
> know whom it was from.
> --
> Cheers,              Híggledy-pìggledy / XML programmers
> Rick Moen            Try to escape those / I-eighteen-N woes;
> rick at linuxmafia.com  Incontrovertibly / What we need more of is
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Open Source Programs Manager, Google Inc.
Google's Open Source program can be found at http://code.google.com
Personal Weblog: http://dibona.com

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