On the matter of the proposed Pine64 mobile device (a potentially unpopular opinion)
(10-24-2018, 08:26 AM)Luke Wrote: Thank you for writing up for such a comprehensive critique. I feel like there are a few points which should be addressed at this stage; the first of which is the relationship to, and comparison with, the RPI Foundation. PINE64 is a company and community in its own right, with its own ideas and goals, most of which are different to those of RPI. We co-exist in the same marketspace, sure, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that we’re in a direct competition. If anything, I feel that PINE64 caters to a different audience in the same space. To this end, we are focusing on building our own niche in the market rather than trying to conquer theirs head-on; let users tied to other projects come and join us when they feel that they are ready for something different (I am also fully aware that most will never make the jump).   

I’ll try, to the best of my ability, address some of your key points pertaining to the PinePhone in detail:

  1. Of course the PinePhone will not be able to compete with your Pixel 2 in any respect. It won’t be as powerful, it won’t be as all-around capable and won’t take pictures that will awe you friends. I am also sure that it will not be as well built. But at no point did we intend to advertise the PinePhone as a substitute for those high-end devices either. It will, however, be a tinkerer’s and Linux enthusiast’s dream - or so we hope; it will be modular, hackable, upgradable and open.
  2. I am not the right person to address the financial side of things, but I wouldn’t worry about how this will device will influence our SBC’s. Just as an example, the Rock64 is getting a Rev 3 update soon (ayufan just got a sample), there is a new-and-improved Pine H64 (model B) on the way and TL will be looking into potential future SOCs for future boards. Do you feel that the Pinebook detracted - quality-wise - from the hardware development of the RockPro64 ? I don’t. I don’t think that the inclusion of the PinePhone will change anything SBC-wise.  
  3. Resources - as in man / dev hours - are a bit of a different story to money. As everyone knows we depend on the community and third-party projects / devs to deliver most of the software for PINE64 hardware. Going back to the example of the Pinebook - it brought in KDE devs who are now here to stay and are now porting Neon to the Rock/Pro64 from what I understand. In the same way, the PinePhone will bring in new devs who are interested in this niche linux filed… I wouldn’t worry about ayufan abandoning his minimal images for the sake of working on the phone. We’re currently talking to UBPorts and KDE guys and they seem happy to support it. Software-wise, I foresee that this will only diversify our dev pool.  
  4. We all want to see PINE64 succeed. It's worth remembering that there are both different paths to and measures of success. You may very well be correct that the PinePhone will not succeed, but it has already allowed us to establish contact with a dedicated team of devs and a brand new community. So, in a sense, it's already successful. I always think that building the projects capacity is its measure of success - more so than financial income or devices themselves.
I fully understand your scepticism, and hope that this and other projects will show that diversifying the PINE64 catalogue is only a good thing. Perhaps this is also the right time to mention that we have other side-projects that are not directly tied to SBCs - which have been worked on and developed for a long time. None of which have detracted from our SBCs or other platforms.

Great critique - thanks once again.

If you don't think Pine64 caters to the same end-user as Rpi, you should really look into the ThunderX2, and the multitide of legitimate enterprise-grade boards with as many as 96 cores. This is what compelled Cloudlfare to ditch Intel last Spring in a mass migration of monumental scale. Cloudflare is, as you likely know, a private company so their financials are not in the public domain, but highly credible sources estimate their total valuation in the low billions - I've read as high as 3.2B

What I'm getting at is this: I defy you to name even a single commercial enterprise with the name recognition, profitability, or influence of Cloudflare that would revuew  Pine64's current product line, and see anything even remotely resembling a viable enterprise solution. Here I'll make this quick: no such company exists. So I hope you recognize now why Pine64 is most certainly an direct industry competitor to Raspberry Pi.

Feelings and gut-driven hunches are not the metric by which we classify a board, at least in terms of enterprise vs. consumer. It comes down to hardware schematics and real world performance and you can't tell me RockPro64 is more nearly likable to Rpi than it to, say, this 384 core enterprise-grade board

To be clear, I am not criticizing RockPro64 or any other products (other than Rpi, they need to bundle up their obnoxious proprietary drivers and leap throw themselves on a raging bonfire). They're spectacular CONSUMER-GRADE products for IoT and embedded systems devs to build upon, and casual hobbyists to play around with. In other words, they're fighting for shares of the same market, so you cannot justifiably push this false distinction.

Which brings my point full circle. Pine64 has such stellar documentation, rapid development of software support for new releases, not to mention the best and most energized online following of any board maker in the world. But let's face it: if you buy a PinePhone, it will either feel like cheap trash just holding it in your hand, OR Pine64 could stake a huge bet by pulling out all the stops and giving us a phone sleeker than you've ever thought possible. Crucial caveat: you and other consumers will inherit the burden of higher production cost, so prepare yourself to pay literally thousands – as in a plurality of thousands of dollars – because Pine64 isn't an industry behemoth capable of dictating the terms of every deal they make. 

My Pixel XL 2 feels spectacular but I'm also well aware it likely cost Google literally a handful of pennies to produce. Hell they probably exploited some tax loophole to weasel out of paying anything at all for all I knnufacturing plants more or less beg Google for contracts. I foresee the opposite being true with Pine64. They have no track record in this market, so they're at the mercy of whoever they contract to mass-produce these phones. And that contractor by the way will have a total monopoly on negotiative leverage every step of the way. Meaning they call the shots and Pine64 can either get further distracted with legal action or do what most small companies immediately leap to: giving up and agreeing to pay more .

Which means the rest of you pay more. Unless they're taking the cheap POS phone route. My hunch is they'll take the cheap hardware route, bloat the system with needless KDE crap devouring whatever system resources this phone has to offer (I anticipate feeling profoundly underwhelmed, but we'll see). So you'll either pay more than you should or buy way a lesser phone than you'd ever want. But nobody will because Purism's Librem5 FOSS phone will be out in the next year, and nobody will care about the board company pretending to be a smartphone company.

Messages In This Thread
RE: On the matter of the proposed Pine64 mobile device (a potentially unpopular opinion) - by hiccupstix - 10-24-2018, 10:59 AM

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