Open Source Hardware business model

Open Source hardware is gaining momentum … its an intriguing fork to the open source software concept. People get together and design some piece of hardware … and then, I suppose, someone makes it.

I see an opportunity for a collaboration platform. A web site that holds all of the documentation and organises the collaboration. Somewhat like sourceforge.

Taking it one step further, potential customers could ‘pledge’ to buy one instance of the piece of hardware. Once a certain number of people have pledged, the ‘pledge cash’ can be used to implement the product.

Those who pledged money early get a discount on the product …. those who contributed to the hardware design share in the spoils.

Hmm … I can think of a project where this would work.

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2 Responses to Open Source Hardware business model

  1. nick says:

    don’t be so coy – what’s the project?
    an ambi mic?
    a 4ch recorder?
    an ambi player?

    … and does open source hardware make open source in general relevant again?

    As an aside i’d say the most successful example of open source hardware in my sphere of interest has to be the Arduino microcontroller project, which is sold in large numbers by various online retailers. It’s worth a look if you haven’t seen it before:

    That said, i’m not sure how the software modification process translates to hardware, even when it can be totally specified in electronic form. I expect additional features or modifications are developed by a much smaller group than usual in software projects. So open source hardware might mean more in terms of distribution of the “source” materials (enabling people to make the object themselves), than the process of collaborative development. The success of DIY construction depends on the commodification of parts manufacturing processes, which works in the case of a piece of electronics, but maybe not so well in the case of the car – or maybe in the case of an ambi mic?

    definitely food for thought though

  2. Nick, there are no current plans to make an open-source ambi mic.

    That said, I think it would be doable. There would be cost associated with the necessary prototypes and various parts of the manufacturing process.

    But I think that one of the key successes of the Open Source software moevement is the project management hierarchy and ‘kudos’ for good contributions. I think these would also work in a hardware project… but you’d have to have those good people manageing.

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