What am I talking about? The first Turris Omnia routers, of course! By this moment, the first routers should be unpacked and pleasing their new owners. Not many of our projects in CZ.NIC brought us as much joy and as many troubles at the same time. The joy came right at the beginning. First prototypes were finished in record time. Tests showed that despite the great performance and a significant number of connectors we managed to maintain a very compact size and reasonable consumption. Naturally, the main joy came when during our Indiegogo campaign, we collected the required amount of USD 100,000 in less than 24 hours (the total amount as of today is almost twelvefold). The reception in the world media was also great.
Unfortunately, then came the troubles. Last November, the original production plan seemed very real. Even when we started realizing that its very success was corrupting this plan a bit. Producing and distributing a small series is something very different from a larger series. Yet we have worked hard for the production to begin sometime in April or May. Then manufacturers of printed circuit boards messed with us. I do not want to cry at the cruelty of fate again, I have already done it in my presentation at IT 16 (in Czech only), but the truth is that those were the kind of problems we really couldn’t have expected. Unfortunately, the board production, component installation and the subsequent testing of each prototype series takes us at least five to six weeks, and when the process goes wrong three times in a row, the total delay is considerable. And to launch the production without proper testing of pre-production prototypes, well, that would be a gamble we did not intend to take.
Anyway, we hope that the worst is behind us now and that the manufacturing and distribution will carry on without problems. Currently, about 700 routers should be leaving our nest every week.
So what lies ahead? As we have mentioned many times, obviously, there were more routers produced than it was pre-ordered in the campaign. In the campaign, people bought slightly over 4000 routers, while in the first production batch we are producing 8,000 pieces. So after sending routers to all the campaign participants, we will proceed to next phase of the project, which is normal commercial sale. For many companies this is a standard routine, but for a company that is primarily involved in operation of domain registry and research and development of open source software and hardware, it is understandably a big challenge and a big change of mindset. Setting of all sales channels deserves its own long story, but to make it short, the first retail shop accepts pre-orders. This allows us to finally say goodbye to Indiegogo and stop addressing direct distribution to end users. Further business steps, of course, will depend on the users’ demand. We would like to restore the option of ordering some extensions that were popular in the campaign. These will include mainly LTE and probably also a NAS box. Another task will be the expansion to foreign markets. In this regard we are guided by the data from the campaign, which indicates the highest demand for Omnia abroad in Germany, which is the direction we will logically stretch our efforts to, while not forgetting about other countries as well.
Certainly we must not let up in the technical field. Our main priority is to fulfill all the promises of the campaign (the so-called stretch goals). We will announce fulfillment of at least some of them very soon. Of course, the project will stick to its key objectives, so the emphasis will remain on security and openness.
If Omnia keeps its popularity and sells well, there are going to be some changes in the hardware area. Production of the next batch of routers will not be possible without minor changes: unfortunately, in the meantime, the production of some less essential components was ceased, which means that we will have to test prototypes all over again. We would also like to make some changes on the basis of the experience with this batch. Certain constructional changes could help make the production slightly cheaper or allow a small increase in performance or capacity in the future.
Apart from security issues, we would also like to fulfill the second part of the slogan “More than just a router. The open-source center of your home.” Our plans include the production of small accessories, which should allow to expand Omnia towards home automation.
However, no matter what plans we have, it is still true that “life will tell”. The most important thing, though, is for Omnia to make people happy and help them solve some of the problems, whether in security or openness, and the like. Please keep wishing us luck!