Open hardware business model

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One of the bottlenecks of open hardware is to generate a business model that can generate enough revenue for the project to keep going. Many open hardware projects focus on cutting costs because they are created in academic settings, in which labor has a virtual zero cost.

Most business models for open hardware are not different than for traditional hardware:[@pearce2017Emerging Business Models for Open Source Hardware]

However, what is important to note is that most models work on the assumption of artificially generated scarcity, or even worse on being cheaper (see: open hardware should not be a strategy to overcome licensing, and technology transfer).

A true open-hardware business case can be built if one can prove, for example, the value of a community built around a tool. However, making it open is not enough to build a community, in the same way that being open is not a requirement to build a community. Therefore, we must still think if there is a specific value in being open hardware, such as guaranteeing continuity.

As with software, open-hardware could be a marketing stunt (see: why companies fund open source software), but the comparison with software misses the point.

Tags: #open-hardware #business-models #technology-transfer #literature-note


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Aquiles Carattino
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