Open-source hardware takes steps toward gadget mainstream… IDG article –

Could the same philosophy — the free and public dissemination of underlying code and specs, with multiple developers from disparate sources contributing to the design — work for tech gadgets as well? Will we one day commonly use smartphones, netbooks or other gadgets that have been developed under an open-source model, maybe even preferring them over proprietary products like the iPhone? After all, it’s possible today to design a device — including its electrical and mechanical architecture — on a personal computer with CAD and schematic design software, order nearly all the components needed for it online, and then process the manufacturing of a prototype through a low-cost supplier. So the idea of organizing an open-source project online to build a device isn’t far-fetched, nor is it one that requires millions in start-up funding. But can such gadgets succeed against those developed by established commercial manufacturers with deep pockets? Mark Driver, a Gartner analyst who specializes in open source, thinks that open-source gadgets have the best chance in markets where the technology has matured to the point that it is commonplace.

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