Open letter to HMD Global: Make Nokia great again

Dear HMD Global, We, Nokia 8110 4G users, have different backgrounds.

Open letter to HMD Global: Make Nokia great again

Dear HMD Global,

We, Nokia 8110 4G users, have different backgrounds. Some of us are newcomers, some of us are hardcore Nokia users ever since the first 8110 came out in 1996, some of us are just alternative mobile platform enthusiasts. We all united in the appreciation and even admiration of your attempt of bringing some fresh ideas to the immortal classics of feature phones. And we're really grateful for it.

However, this admiration quickly changed into displeasure for most of us when we saw the actual phone and took it into our hands in the summer 2018. Instead of a real keypad smartphone revival, we saw no file manager, no text reader, no open source for KaiOS (despite it's based on open-source Firefox OS), almost no apps in the store and - most importantly - no ability to even sideload them. For most of us, the things we saw were insulting: what kind of smartphone is that? But KaiOS developers didn't seem to care. It's a really shameful state for an operating system with such a huge potential and truly open nature.

This is why we started our quest to liberate this system ourselves. And one of us finally managed to do this - in a very cumbersome way, with a very dirty hack, but this hack hit the news. Afterwards, we got the ability to read the system partition and find out a more gentle way to sideload the apps. And you know what the main consequence of this process is? There's not only a file manager and text reader, but over 160 working unofficial ports of different applications right now outside your official KaiOS Store! This is how you attract the developers for an emerging platform, not with your "developer agreement" where you don't even allow us to develop VoIP apps! How are you even thinking to compete with Android or other smartphone platforms with such a restriction?

We came in peace, and our only mission was to make 8110 better. But instead of your understanding and cooperation, we only faced blatant resistance. You ignored community requests, you ignored developers' offers, and you changed the update keys to render our patches non-functional. You even spread some misinformation about the device itself (e.g. that maximum capacity of microSD card supported by 8110 4G is 32 GB, while in reality FAT32-formatted 64GB cards work just perfect). You must understand that you're resisting the unstoppable and postponing the inevitable.

Someone had written on the official Nokia forum that he was already using WhatsApp on his 8110. This is not a speculation, this is the truth. A globally ready version of WhatsApp is already available for our unofficial installation method. We, enthusiasts from different parts of the world, did this work for you. And you don't even bother to release WhatsApp officially while it already has been available for JioPhone, another KaiOS-based phone, for about half a year. This is our latest statement that we can still change things.

Moreover, we are observing the same situation of totally poor support for other, more simple, Series 30+ based Nokia feature phones. Users still have no official way to import those famous 2000 contacts into the Nokia 105, 106, 130 etc. Nokia PC Suite is gone and they got no replacement for it. So they again have to use our unofficial tools, NokiaTool and TekBuster, to do this. You tell them that the microUSB port in the 105 and 106 is for charging only? We, with TekBuster in our hands, can prove the opposite.

Once more we come in peace to you and hoping to start a dialogue instead of a quarrel. We're here to represent interests of millions of Nokia users that have chosen products of this great brand because of their renowned quality and now are disappointed with your actions or their absence per se. On behalf of them, we, united forces of
   comp.mobile.nokia.8110 (aka Bananahackers) group,
   r/KaiOS Reddit community,
   XDA-Developers Nokia 8110 4G users community,
   4PDA Nokia 8110 4G users community,
   Helpix.ru Nokia 8110 4G users community,
   Nokioteca forum community,
have the following essential requests for you as the vendor of these undoubtedly great phones:

1. We need to have an official way of a boxless (using just a PC and a microUSB cable) firmware reflashing for Nokia 8110 4G and for Series 30+ based phones. This should be available not only for Windows, but for Linux and macOS as well. Also, firmware images of each version should be available via the official Nokia website.
2. For 8110 4G, we need to have an ability to unlock the bootloader to replace the recovery image and/or install custom firmware. Any user doing this gives the consent on voiding the warranty but he/she should be able to do this. Also, we need fastboot mode back on 8110 4G.
3. For 8110 4G, we need to have an officially supported way to sideload apps, just like .apk files for Android or like the OWA packaged app installation links (Firefox OS did have such an ability).
4. For 8110 4G, we want the Developer Menu and the ability to perform privileged mode reset from within it to be enabled by default. Also, within this mode, adb root console should be enabled, like it was in Firefox OS.
5. We need to have an official and cross-platform (Windows/Linux/macOS) PC Suite-like utility to manage contacts, messages and files (whenever file management is possible) for 8110 4G and especially for Series 30+ based phones.
6. For 8110 4G, we need you to lift the VoIP app limitation, at least for the countries where VoIP over cellular networks is not prohibited, and start bringing WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, LINE, Signal and other IM applications with fully functional voice calling functionality to the official store.
7. For all feature phones, we need an official ability to remove paid pre-installed games. For 8110 4G, we also need an official ability to remove Google-related apps.
8. We want you to open the source of used Linux kernel and KaiOS parts taken directly from Mozilla's Firefox OS code base to stop violating GPL and other open-source licenses. Moreover, there should be a repository where any developer can contribute to improvements of built-in KaiOS components usability and UI localizations.

We have all hope that you'll listen to our pleas as these changes would allow us to improve the device and its ecosystem much better, faster and stronger.

We're also looking forward to more classic phone remakes, like 7110, 8910, 6210 and so on. :-)

Make Nokia great again!

Yours sincerely,

Pavlo K. (Luxferre), Ukraine
Ivan Alex HC, Salerno, Italy
Sylvain BLOT (sylvain at rentoo dot immo)
Nguyen Thanh Nam (jkelol111), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Daniël Eikelenboom, Netherlands
P. Shnit, London, United Kingdom
Vivek Goutam (AdvancedHACKERniV1), Bangalore, India
Hossain Mohammed Shoaib, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Jukka Korpi, Kurikka, Finland
Sylvain Dumaine, Paris, France
Peter Knight, United Kingdom
Tanami Muller, Adelaide, Australia
John-David Deubl, Switzerland
Rubén Rodrigo, Inveraray, Scotland
Jan Rezny, Czech Republic
Bùi Huy Minh, Hai Duong, Vietnam
Nathan Phillipps, Australia
Matvey Z. (matvey-nt), Russia
Nikolay Bieliakov, Russia
Marcus Kolenda, Germany
Jonny MacBean, United Kingdom

Comments

  • +1 from me. If the software for this phone were made available under a Free Software license, like Android and the FirefoxOS / KaiOS it is based on, then I would most certainly contribute.
  • I totally agree. If the software was better, Nokia would be doing much better with the 8110
  • abbas abbas
    ✭✭✭  /  edited January 10
    Luxferre,

    As Nokia clearly mentions this Community Forum is between peer-to-peer interaction, I doubt if Nokia will make a response here. I believe your open letter is better sent as an attachment to Nokia's "Chat with Us" as it is one of their official virtual desk counter which means they have to address it even if their feedback is "We'll look into it".
  • singhnsk singhnsk
    ✭✭✭✭  / 
    A really nice post. But there's a reason why Firefox OS failed and now companies are ready to invest huge in a closed-source fork of Firefox OS. The whole point is that they don't want the open OS. They want a closed OS which doesn't give the user freedom over what is installed to their devices.
    Unfortunately, Kai is a closed source OS and Nokia can't do anything about it. And Kai likely doesn't care because it has a big capital invested by Google and Reliance (India). So it will only do what their masters ask it to.
    The ability to sideload apps is one of the basics of an OS and them blocking it is good for nothing. I hope this changes!
  • @abbas, see below of why any answer from them might not be relevant anymore.

    @singhnsk, I thought so for some time as well. But only a few of us (2-3 out of the 21 signers of this letter and the movement in general) know the situation deeper than the others. Recently (several days ago) we found out horrible things about current state of KaiOS security (or lack thereof). I tried to talk to Fabrice regarding this state but his deliberate silence on any security-related questions makes me think that all this was intentional. And yes, both HMD and KaiOStech are to blame here. And no, they will not allow sideloading willingly: even Fabrice thinks that iOS-like software distribution model is perfectly fine. But even this doesn't matter anymore after what we saw how they treat our privacy and security.

    And I don't wish to start a panic but I also don't want to tell any lies to people that sometimes trust in us more than they trust in Nokia: at the time this letter was sent out, there was hope. With what some of us know now, we see the only option for us all to stay safe: creating a custom firmware ROM. For obvious reasons, the first stages of this development are closed until something functional appears. Then it will become completely open-source (with the exception of Qualcomm drivers and some parts of recovery, probably) and together we'll turn 8110 4G into a true community phone, open and secure.

    Don't be afraid, changes are coming. Stay tuned!
  • madbilly madbilly
    ✭✭✭✭  /  edited January 10
    @Luxferre I understand and agree with all of your requests. I think some are more likely to be granted than others, but that doesn't mean any will actually happen unfortunately. I congratulate you on writing the letter here, on the Nokia forums, where it is clear you are writing to Nokia, rather than leaving it on XDA or Reddit.

    The KaiOS fork of Gecko is on Github: https://github.com/kaiostech/gecko-b2g
    I presume that it's what is supplied to OEM's but I've no idea if they modify it afterwards (although I doubt they have the skills, Gecko knowledge is limited outside Mozilla, unlike Linux).

    Nokia and all other OEM's of KaiOS phones should make available all of the Gonk and Gecko layers of the KaiOS (and FirefoxOS/B2GOS) architecture as they're all under GPL, LGPL and MPL. The Gaia layer is closed source (even Mozilla only used the Apache licence, not MPL). The fact that no KaiOS phone OEM has yet done this is probably due to community pressure being less than it is for releasing code for Android phones. However, since the Linux Foundation and Mozilla own the copyright on most parts of Gonk and Gecko you may have some success if you ask them to remind the OEMs of their legal obligations... ;)

    Regarding the privacy issues, this was always my concern with KaiOS. Why else would it be an attractive platform for Google and Facebook to invest in (in various ways)?

    Regarding security, I also had my fears about this since Gecko v48 is not maintained by Mozilla anymore so KaiOS must do this themselves. This is probably why the phones are so locked down, it's a way of reducing the available attack vectors.

    Your points on S30+ are valid too, it's a shame that owners of lower spec phones are treated so poorly with support utilities now.

    I'll be waiting to hear more from you on your development of a custom ROM, it's very intriguing to me! There's a lot of info still available on discourse.mozilla.org, developer.mozilla.org, wiki.mozilla.org and in github.com/mozilla-B2G (also some in the various FirefoxOS mailing lists,  IRC logs and telegram history, if you want to go digging!) I'm sure you'll make the most of it. If you, can, please report your development on discourse.mozilla.org as I'm sure the people there will be very interested to know what you achieve.

    And finally, bear in mind that the people you speak with at KaiOS, when you exchange with them about KaiOS in the open internet or in any written form, are telling you the official company line. What they actually would actually like to be able to do themselves, without restrictions, may be completely in line with what you want to do. In their spare time they may be doing very similar things in other projects.

    PS - thanks for the reference to the bananahackers, your mailing list is very busy, well done! :smiley:

    PPS - and I see you've found the Firefox Marketplace snapshot, should be a great resource for you!
  • Though it would be nice, I think you forget one basic thing. This is a commercial business...

    I do not think that the lack of what you request is a matter of some evil people like Mr Elop that want things to fail to destroy the company to sell it cheap.

    Someone somewhere have to find a commercial balance.

    When we e.g. get stuffed rammed down our throats that we can not uninstall from the phone as is, well then that is part of some bargain made to get other stuff at the price they did.
    Sure it would be nice if we had the option. Say if I could pay $1 to uninstall an unwanted game I would, but I think most people would just mistakenly see this as aPple style greed, so I do understand why they don't.

    And the Whatsapp app. Have you considered that it might be a matter of negotiation with the developers and other parties of the price?

    And though the hardware might well be able to do more, the 8110 4G is marketed as a 'smart feature phone', at a price point reflecting that. HMD/Nokia also sells more or less advanced 'smartphones', and they have no interest in cannibalising too much into the lower end of that. 

    What they COULD do was to offer an 'unchained' version, with some marginally altered hardware too at a higher price point. I for one would most likely have be willing to pay a little extra for that.
  • @madbilly Right now things are going not quite the way you described but we'll definitely keep everyone updated as soon as there's something to update. 

    @eskerahn:

    As for WhatsApp: we wouldn't be surprised about this but as a matter of fact, an India-locked version was already released a long time ago. What we did is dump and unlock it (added the ability to use other country codes) without tampering existing app core verification mechanism. And it works (on v13 firmware) but an official version would definitely be much better to have for an average user. Although I'm predicting that it won't have voice calls as well.

    As for the price point: most people I talked to (and whom I represent in the community) told me that 8110 4G is already too expensive for what it currently can do, at least without jailbreaking, and they'd rather go with Nokia 1 or any local-OEM-branded Android smartphone for the same price. And also they tell that the overall UI is too slow to compete with other expensive feature phones like Nokia 230 or even damned 515. There's no selling point of 8110 4G for them, unlike us, who know its true potential. Such a phone must not deliberately be dumbed down.

    As for everything else you pointed out: nope, we don't forget it, and we don't forgive it.
    We don't forgive the fact that such an amazing open-source project, B2G/Firefox OS, was turned into a locked-down platform to show us ads and spy on us (and right now I have direct proofs to that statement, which I cannot release yet without a patch to protect the OS).
    We don't forgive the fact of not bringing back Symbian-like fast UI/UX.
    We don't need altered hardware to run the software we want to run.

  • eskerahn eskerahn
     /  edited January 12
    Luxferre on the Whatsapp there are no contradiction in that the software can run in other countries and that they don't release it worldwide. I do not know who developed it, but I assume they should be payed if it should be spread to wider parts of the world, don't you? And perhaps they simply can not agree on the terms (just a guess). Carrier-interests might also be involved. Things are not always as simple as they might seem from our point of view as users, that just want everything free or for a tiny fee.

    You can be quite sure that HMD/Nokia is not limiting something to a specific region to be evil, they have some reason for it. What it is, is pure guesswork from our end, and my guess is licencing. Or perhaps competition with other of their own products.?

    And what the correct price point for the 8110 4G is, for what we get currently, can of course always been argued. I for one bought it as a feature phone, and was happily surprised than it was slightly more than that (did not even know it has GPS and maps), so in my end I got more than I expected. Others (including you it seems) might have expected a smartphone and got disappointed.
    Remember when comparing prices that part of the price is for the form factor gimmick, it is not just any other slab. Would I have bought it straightened out and without the slide, no....
  • @eskerahn Well, I hope that WhatsApp developers are not into such kind of cyber-ransom. We see that WhatsApp for Android and iOS is available worldwide (and, moreover, with VoIP calls), why should it be different for KaiOS?

    And what do you mean by "might have expected a smartphone"? As a matter of fact, 8110 4G is a smartphone. By every definition, it is. It's built with smartphone hardware, runs a smartphone OS (B2G-based) with all Linux base borrowed from Android, and has all basic communication abilities a smartphone must have. What we're seeing on the surface though is a deliberately limited shell primarily created to show us ads and spy on us. This raises questions and a natural desire to liberate this system and this device. And we're moving towards it ourselves because we already can't expect anything from the vendors at this point.
  • eskerahn said:
    Luxferre on the Whatsapp there are no contradiction in that the software can run in other countries and that they don't release it worldwide. I do not know who developed it, but I assume they should be payed if it should be spread to wider parts of the world, don't you? And perhaps they simply can not agree on the terms (just a guess). Carrier-interests might also be involved. Things are not always as simple as they might seem from our point of view as users, that just want everything free or for a tiny fee.

    You can be quite sure that HMD/Nokia is not limiting something to a specific region to be evil, they have some reason for it. What it is, is pure guesswork from our end, and my guess is licencing. Or perhaps competition with other of their own products.?

    And what the correct price point for the 8110 4G is, for what we get currently, can of course always been argued. I for one bought it as a feature phone, and was happily surprised than it was slightly more than that (did not even know it has GPS and maps), so in my end I got more than I expected. Others (including you it seems) might have expected a smartphone and got disappointed.
    Remember when comparing prices that part of the price is for the form factor gimmick, it is not just any other slab. Would I have bought it straightened out and without the slide, no....

    Actually it isn't Nokia that is locking it based on country but KaiOS that is country based.
  • I think that support for Symbian phones should also be brought back
  • eskerahn eskerahn
     /  edited January 25
    Luxferre said:
    .
    .
    And what do you mean by "might have expected a smartphone"? As a matter of fact, 8110 4G is a smartphone. By every definition, it is.
    .
    .
    Well not by Nokia's own definition if you look at their page, they call it
    "Smart Feature OS powered by KaiOS"
    A hybrid between "Smart" and "Feature". You may disagree with them in the definition, but they are not hiding that this is meant as a smarter version of a feature phone.

  • Actually it isn't Nokia that is locking it based on country but KaiOS that is country based.
    Thanks for the correction  :)
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