"I can't help but be impressed at the passion and altruism being
displayed but are we glossing over the fact that money drives everything
in the end?" asked Wolfe.
Pierre Michael said that there could
be ways to help open-source hardware go mainstream as open-source
software has done. His company might be able to charge commercially for
the latest revs of its designs while putting previous revs into the
open-source domain, he said.
Kridner acknowledged that market
forces do play a part but where companies are prepared to put out
low-cost boards there is a win for makers and engineers alike. The
panelists all agreed that work on open-source collaborative projects
allowed engineers to be creative, which is often the main motivation for
joining the profession. "TI allows me to work on Beagleboard most of my
time which is great. They don't conflict."
Chris Taylor of SparkFun said: "We have to be viewed as part of the open-source community or our credibility would be burned."
pushed on the commercial sustainability of open-source hardware Gert
Van Loo responded by saying: "Open-source software works. It has been
working for years even though some people don't understand how."
he also acknowledged that, because of the costs of manufacture and
delivery, open-source hardware is a different case. "OSH is going to
need money and you need to make money out of it to be sustainable. But
maybe we are fighting things like 40 percent profit margins. At least
people know that a CEO is not going fill his pockets and go live on an
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