Long press releases/statements usually mean that something is very fishy inside a company. Nevertheless, I have tried my best to dig through the full statement from Openmoko’s VP of Marketing, Steve Moshe – the key points are in bold:

During the last week Openmoko has had two great events. First the Embedded System Conference, ESC) and second, the OpenExpo in Bern. Those events could not have been more well timed for us because we had two major announcements to make: a thrust into the embedded systems market and the announcement of a new device, not a phone but an entirely new open device.
The launch into the embedded systems market is a case of the market finding the manufacturer. We designed the FreeRunner as an open phone. After it launched we started to receive requests from customers we never dreamed existed: Innovators who wanted to change the case or add in additional hardware. People who wanted to resell the phone with their software added. The collective creativity outside the company, dwarfed the creativity within the company. Our customers truly are an army of Davids. To seize this opportunity we decided to open up our CAD files, and open up our schematics. That way these new-found markets can develop for themselves products that we don’t have the resources to develop. So, over the next few months you’ll see us make a more focused effort in this market space. As a platform for embedded development, nothing compares to the FreeRunner: Open schematics; Open CAD; Open hardware; Open software.
At OpenExpo we had a keynote speech in the business track. This gave us the opportunity to explain some of the change in focus we’ve made in the past month. Our CEO Sean Moss-Pultz delivered the presentation and I’ll take some space here to explain in a bit more detail the background behind these exciting changes. Sean discussed three things:
1. Our successes.
2. Our mistakes.
3. Our challenges
It’s vitally important when addressing the challenges of the future to assess and understand your past success. Openmoko launched its first developer phone in July of 07 and the FreeRunner shipped in July of 08. Sales tripled. Not only did we build a phone; we built a company and distribution network in the process. We also helped others build their own businesses around the FreeRunner. Our takeaway lessons were as follows: Open Products can be successful in the marketplace; being Open multiplies everyone’s business opportunities. For our mistakes we identified these: Open Product design is very hard as there is a tendency to make too many changes. Our culture is not authoritarian. We also tended to view hardware with a “software” mentality, as something that could be easily changed or patched.
Our challenge going forward is to seize the opportunity we see in the embedded space and push forward the cause of open hardware. And we had to make some choices about how to spend the balance of 2009. There were essentially three projects going on inside OpenMoko: ongoing support of FreeRunner; Development of a follow on phone, the GTA03; and development of project “B”. From a resources standpoint we could pick any two. Given the traction we see in the embedded space and given our passionate commitment to current FreeRunner owners and developers it was easy to pick that project. Nine months after launching FreeRunner with tremendous support from the community the product is coming into its own with a diverse set of distributions that run on it, from android to debian. Then comes the choice between project “B” and the GTA03.
There were two paths:
A: Fulfill our promises on FreeRunner and launch GTA03
B: Fulfill our promises on FreeRunner and launch project B.
We will talk more about project B in the coming months, but these salient facts guided our decisions:
1. GTA03 was in constant flux as a design.
2. GTA03 schedule was consequently always slipping.
3. The resources required for GTA03 are 3X those required for Project B.
4. OM doesn’t have 3X resources

So, we picked plan B. Focus on supporting the FreeRunner and launching the more modest project, project B. That decision entailed putting GTA03 on hold and rethinking how we do that product and that business in a better way: learning from our mistakes and building on our success. It also meant restructuring engineering and sales and marketing.
Now comes the question, what about GTA03? how do we get there? And when? and what is it?
First, we attend to the issues that still remain with the FreeRunner. Second we complete project B. When we’ve done that, then we get to eat dessert. Essentially, we agreed with the case made by users on our community list. They asked us: ”How do expect us to buy a GTA03 when the FreeRunner is not yet consumer ready?” We also listened to our distribution partners. They wanted to know how they could continue to sell the FreeRunner when the GTA03 was “just around the corner.” And finally, we listened to our engineers. Since all of our sales are to people who understand engineering, their opinion about market viability is very important to us.
All of those arguments said the GTA03 as defined made no sense. As it was defined, it is dead. So how do we get to a new GTA03? Two requirements: continue to improve the FreeRunner; deliver on project B. What is GTA03 and when do we get there? There are a number of independent volunteer efforts out working at defining the GTA03 and working at refining or revolutionizing the business model to make it possible. Going forward we are going to open those efforts entirely. Our community has consistently asked for a voice in the up-front design decisions, so we will build a mechanism to try to make that happen. Again, whenever we see a challenge or an opportunity our first reaction is to rely on our strength. The community. They have never let us down.
Specifically what can the community do to help with this challenge and seize the opportunities we are presented with?
1. Move FreeRunner code upstream.
2. Stay involved or get involved.
3. Continue work on applications and distributions
4. Buy a FreeRunner.
5. Get involved in GTA03 discussions. The mailing list will appear on Openmoko.org in the forthcoming days.

P.S. Just in case anyone of you currently works on a press release or statement: 300 words is ideal…


Related posts:

  1. OpenMoko: FreeRunner is dead
  2. Is Nokia dead?
  3. Open source – or – the fake silver bullet
  4. Yandex buys SPB (for its 3D UI system)
  5. Infighting starts in Qt for Android project

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