Open Source Hardware Trap

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Open Source Hardware must be iterated many times to reach product release. And each iteration costs money. Unlike software: electrons are almost free.

So here is the typical story:

Joe Open Hardware Hero builds a prototype. He gives up after one or few prototypes, as he was not aware that perfection requires more than a couple tries.

Jasmine takes over, and begins to reinvent the wheel - the last version was never completed, nor documented - so she starts from scratch. Like Joe, she gives up, not being aware that it takes 12 to 100 tries to get it right. Just think about software - and compare that number to the number of attempts in software: that number is huge indeed. Every single commit (there are thousands) is effectively a prototype equivalent.

This happens ad infinitum - while Billy the Proprietary Man continues to enjoy sales of his closed hardware, into which he threw the millions up front necessary to get to product release.

The Joes and Jasmines of the world end up collectively spending billions. And they still can't produce a single damn product!

This is Collaborative Waste at its finest.

Extreme Enterprise is designed to address this point. Extreme Enterprise solves this point by securing the resources, primarily organizational and in some part financial - to attain completion of product development in a short time. We have already shown time compression of prototyping from months to days via Extreme Manufacturing and Module-Based Design. So we suspect the same is possibly by extending the Extreme model to the enterprise level.

Moreover, Extreme Enterprise intends to solve for the non-collaborative nature of open source. Ideally - open source hardware projects would organize voluntarily - and be done with products in no time. But this doesn't happen because of the Open Source Hardware Trap: there is rarely sufficient energy behind a project. In successful projects such as reprap - there is no product. The only product comes from spinoffs, who take a startup team, and take products to completion. Most end up being closed source or Open-Sourcish. Successful open hardware projects end up being herculean efforts by small high-performing teams - not open to highly-coordinated, large-scale, collaborative development. This is a matter of the difficulty on the organizational front - of coordinating people. Herding cats is a common expression that refers to this phenomenon. So as a secondary point - Extreme Enterprise solves for Herding Cats.