After 6 months of PayPal trouble the situation has been sorted. Neo900 has resumed buying components for the upcoming production run.
The PP issue got solved "by timeout" (180 day rule).
This is good news! Since last September our assets were frozen (the “WikiLeaks Syndrome”) as our “case” was going through a Kafkaesque process that finally ended on January, 25th, 2016.
After blocking Neo900's account, PayPal had to decide whether Neo900 is a crowdfunding project or a pre-selling project.
PayPal initially recategorized us as pre-sale, imposing a whopping $200,000 insurance reserve: effectively freezing your 40k EURO assets for 180 days. We'd like to thank you again for your continuous support, and numerous efforts and supporting letters. All funds where eventually released when reaching the 180 days threshold.
Right after PayPal unlocked your contributions, we could resume buying components to build the new boards.
Unfortunately, 500 N900 units that we had secured earlier were missed due to accumulated delays with pre-orders and the PayPal freeze.
In order to break even, our earlier estimates pointed at 500 units sold. After the 6-month PayPal delay, our estimate bumped break even to ~800 units. This means we must communicate a bit more (and better) and Joerg proposed to do Community PR, where the brainstorming has started.
Recently, a large number of units—more than we need to break even— appeared on Aliexpress: our boots on the ground in China are active to evaluate those N900 allegedly from Russia. If you know where to find some affordable stocks of N900 units, please contact us!
This article was brought to you by hellekin, who joined the team to facilitate communication with you.
I was called to join the Neo900 to relieve our dears inventors from the public relations tasks, and let them focus on the technical and operational sides of the project.
I'm not a PR professional, but a long time free software activist and accidental coder. A member of the Dyne.org Foundation, my activity covers a diversity of projects ranging from system administration to code, web development, and community building. I participate in a few free software projects such as Tomb, Dowse, and Devuan. I also volunteer time to the GNU project in the webmasters team and with the GNU consensus project to coordinate development of free social software.
Last August at CCCamp15, I was softly coerced into accepting a N900 phone from Werner with the hope I would go back a week later to Buenos Aires and hand him the device for dissection. Unfortunately I didn't come back yet, but I learned to live with my new pet.
You see, my last phone ended up dying slowly on the roof of a random bar in Paris, sometimes in 1999. My friends had been harrassing me to get one, then harrassing me for not answering it, and finally stopped complaining when they learned I had no phone anymore. Go figure. I was happy with the situation until Camp.
You can imagine how an inexperienced user who didn't follow the evolution of smartphone technologies since before Y2K can build expectations about a phone. I had mine: it should be flat, multitouch and HD, about the size of a Galaxy S10, and of course free hardware, the only way the user can ensure the phone is not spying on them.
Interruption and built-in privacy wiper were the two main blockers for me to get a phone again. I was still waiting for my dream phone.
My lack of experience with smartphones make me an excellent guinea pig for user interfaces. My friends can't stop wondering when they see me fail at using their device for simple tasks. But if you wonder how a clueless person can handle tech talk about phones and communicate for Neo900, here comes a little context.
I had been curious about free hardware since I met
Sébastien Bourdeauducq in the
hackerspace near Paris. We share some fun memories of making an
ad-hoc street demo
of MilkyMist One in
Amsterdam. The OpenMoko project was great and
Neo Freerunner design attractive, although a bit clumsy to
handle and the display too small. So I kept waiting.
When Werner introduced me to the Neo900, I stubbornly dismissed it for the form factor. Although it brought to life my desire for an Internet device built on free hardware and free software, I could resist the tentation to crave this slider with a ridiculously small keyboard: I'm not a thumb-writer! So when Werner sneakily handed me an N900, via my partner, to "keep in touch during the camp", at a moment most vulnerable as I was leaving my angel shift in the kitchen, circumspection had me.
Long story short: I've been traveling to 4 countries lately and have 6 SIM cards in a little box. Using the keyboard to SSH into a remote machine or editing text isn't as bad as I expected. I still prefer my full-size keyboard but I took some notes on the N900, and it's great for ad-hoc interventions on a server.
Having passed this barrier to usage, I'm eager to see what the hardware upgrade to Neo900 can bring in terms of performance. The N900 falls a bit short and shows its age.
But more importantly, and this is why Neo900 has a special place in my heart, it's the only phone that provides a hardware protection from remote activation of the baseband chip. Even a secure phone like the Cryptophone, besides not being free, cannot prevent the baseband chip from requesting power on its own, because it's using stock hardware, and all commercial phones (I know of) connect the baseband chip directly to the power, without CPU intervention, hence without any control from the OS. With the Neo900, you are free to choose whether this pesky lurker needs access to your phone's radio or not.
Thank you for your attention,
– hellekin for the Neo900 team
P.S.: Feedback is welcome! Did you enjoy reading this post? What else should it have covered? What do you want to read in the news? You can tell me: hellekin at neo900 dot org, or in the comments.