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How Open Source Hardware Is Kick-Starting Kickstarter 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the somebody-out-there-needs-an-inboard-outboard-toaster dept.
ptorrone writes "Imagine waking up and seeing your design for a circuit being used in a product by someone who never contacted you to ask if it was okay. You will not get any payment for their usage of your design, they've raised over $31,000, and they're selling something you worked really hard on. You have no control over what someone does with something you made. Is this a nightmare? Perhaps for some, but this is actually a dream come true for others who do open-source hardware. MAKE magazine profiles a maker using open-source hardware for his now-funded project and looks at others using open hardware for their works."
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How Open Source Hardware Is Kick-Starting Kickstarter

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  • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Friday October 21, 2011 @12:57PM (#37794618)

    I'm pretty sure KickStarter really kickstarted with indie movies, music, etc. In fact, they are still the main projects on KickStarter (and similar sites, like indiegogo).

    What's really 'kickstarting' KickStarter a second time, at least when it comes to tech, is the iDevice.

    There's two areas for technology, the Tech section:
    www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/technology/popular

    And the Design section, which is vastly more tech than design:
    www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/design/popular

    1 in 5 of the projects in either section section are iDevice-oriented - this includes, for example, the 'Sacred Grounds' smartphone app, by which they really mean iOS app and "they hope" to make an Android version as well.

    For the Design section this of course makes sense.. the iPhone and iPad give a narrow target with lots of users so you're far more likely to gain success with e.g. a stand or enclosure there than you could when designing for any single random Android, BB, WP7 or whatever device.

    But also keep in mind it includes such gems as this:
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mcnab-lazar/cablegone-cable-managing-solution?ref=category [kickstarter.com]

    Now I'm all for cable management solutions, even if there's dozens available in the world that doesn't mean we can't have one more. But the additional quality of this cable management is that it can double as a stand for an iPad, the project summary (as seen in widgets etc.) notes:

    Cable.Gone hides the usual clutter and instantly turns your desk into a stylish working space. It can be also used as an iPad stand.

    Yes.. then again, it could be used as any tablet stand. It could be used as a laptop stand. Similarly, a two-by-four could also be used as an iPad stand.

    So why point out the iPad? Marketing, of course. And not just to end-users, but to KickStarter as well. I've more than once joked to people who are doing innovative tech that if they want to get listed on KickStarter, they should mention an iDevice in some way to increase their odds.
    With 1 in 5 projects being iDevice-exclusive or iDevice-targeting in those two sections, I'm not sure I should be treating it as just a joke anymore.

    A bit more on-topic.. 'open hardware' is indeed a large portion of the other 4 in 5 projects in those sections - sometimes from the get-go, sometimes after deliberations and popular demand (such as with the HexBright Flex flashlight). 'open software' however lags behind quite a bit with most projects going nowhere fast. In part that's because those projects tend to be vague, and in part it's because there's often no visible ROI. With an indie movie, you get some exclusive images, a downloadable copy, perhaps even the DVD. With hardware you might get a kit to build it yourself, or a pre-assembled thing, or maybe you just get to see that a website that ends up selling the completed products was indeed launched and you get a sticker (hey, whatever you pledge for - it's not a bazaar after all, it's more like an investment round.. rewards are just for enticement). But with software, especially open source software.. what people, or the market, get is often unclear.
    E.g. TweetFree: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1100820943/tweetfree-secure-distributed-social-networking-pla?ref=category [kickstarter.com]

    Your generous donation will be used to fund continued development of TweetFree, to purchase support contracts for open source software we use and need support on, and to purchase hardware (computers) to run new relay and network servers from.

    So in essence, any funding goes into a black box never to be seen, or accounted for, again, if the blurbs are the only thing to go by. And this for a service that vaguely de

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