What Linux users should know about open hardware

in hardware on (#2SZ5)
Over at Datamation, Bruce Byfield opines, "What Linux users don't know about manufacturing open hardware can lead them to disappointment." Interesting stuff.
Both the manufacturing and distribution of digital products is controlled by a relatively small number of companies, whose time can sometimes be booked months in advance. Profit margins can be tight, so like movie studios that buy the rights to an ancient sit-com, the manufacturers usually hope to clone the success of the latest hot product. As Aaron Seigo told me when talking about his efforts to develop the Vivaldi tablet, the manufacturers would much rather prefer someone else take the risk of doing anything new. Not only that, but they would prefer to deal with someone with an existing sales record who is likely to bring repeat business. Besides, the average newcomer is looking at a product run of a few thousand units. A chip manufacturer would much rather deal with Apple or Samsung, whose order is more likely in the hundreds of thousands.
Off hand, it sounds a bit like the same problem independent authors have with big publishing houses: no one wants to buy or publish anything other than a guaranteed best-seller by a proven author, making it hard for the independent guys to get noticed. The article has some interesting insights into what Aaron Seigo and the Vivaldi (Linux-based open tablet) experienced before they abandoned hope for the project.

Watching the sausage getting made, doesn't really help (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-09-27 09:15 (#2SZ9)

I don't think it's going to help potential customers to know "what's happening behind the news." They're not in it for the joy of experiencing the journey with you... They would simply like to buy the product you promised them. In other industries, an 18-month delay isn't a complete deal-breaker. But in computer hardware, that puts your product a complete generation behind what you promised. It is not remotely the same product it was, 2-year earlier. It has a short shelf-life. You promised grapes and instead delivered raisins...

It's a good cautionary tale to would-be small hardware designers... Getting it to market is a far harder task than you'd imagine. But the key is simple, either get in bed with a big company to push things along, or start with something very small and simple. At the very least, don't start out by making speculative promises, when so many parts of the process are beyond your control.
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