E14 Article: Watching The Business Case for Open Hardware Unfold

Last week I went to the Open Hardware Summit with a skeptical eye to the ability for someone to generate a realistic business model when giving away everything they design.  How can one pay the engineers to design a product when the competition get the same design files without having to pay them?  And I’m not alone in the fear that an open design will result in a ‘fast follower’ will dominate the market and leave a pittance to the innovator.

But I’ve found that it’s more nuanced that simple protection of an idea.  First, people will copy designs no matter what license is used.  Second, there are additional methods of offering value to a customer beyond the physical product and the price point.  I talk about it in my latest Element14 Article…

…The reason I was so excited to attend OHWS was the license’s requirement disallowing the use of a non-commercial clause.  This clause means that the designer cannot limit others’ use of the design files for commercial purposes.  Many people worry that a design can be copied as-is and produced at a lower price than the designer offers thanks to reduced R&D costs. I am not yet sure how valid the concern is, however the outcome is currently being defined which makes for a very exciting time…

Read the full article HERE!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *