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If You're Going To Kill It, Open Source It 245

ptorrone writes "MAKE Magazine is proposing big companies like Cisco and Sony consider 'open sourcing' their failed or discontinued products. The list includes Sony's AIBO and QRIO robots, IBM's Deep Blue chess computer, Ricochet Wireless, Potenco's Pull-Cord Generator, Palm, Microsoft's SPOT Watch, CISCO Flip Camera and more. MAKE is also encouraging everyone to post about what products they'd like to see open sourced."
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If You're Going To Kill It, Open Source It

Comments Filter:
  • Won't Happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29, 2011 @08:17AM (#35973332)
    Not going to happen for two reasons:
    - More often than not, technology or techniques developed from said projects are used in future or ongoing projects.
    - Only one thing worse than your project failing is releasing it in the wild and having another company or group making it successful without you.
  • IP is the problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29, 2011 @08:17AM (#35973334)

    All products would most likely need an audit which would take both time and money...to avoid any legal trouble that could happen. Something I doubt either company would do for the sake of giving people free shit. But you never know, maybe they have higher moral fiber than I think :)

  • Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @08:20AM (#35973342)

    These companies don't want to compete against their own products (released to open source). They'd rather make these products disappear forever, and force customers to buy the newest gadgets.

    Basically it's the same strategy Microsoft follows when it refuses to open source Windows 3 or 95 or XP.

  • by countertrolling ( 1585477 ) * on Friday April 29, 2011 @08:24AM (#35973372) Journal

    That should be the law..

  • Re:Won't Happen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29, 2011 @08:25AM (#35973376)

    I'll give you number 4:
    -The company that released the product likely did not invent every piece of technology in it. Especially with the kind of hardware in this list, at least some parts or patents on some parts were licensed from a 3rd party.

    If we really cared, we could probably get this list to 20, guy who wrote this article is dreaming.

  • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <{richardprice} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday April 29, 2011 @08:41AM (#35973476)

    What needs to be open sourced about Concorde? The principles are well known, its the economics that are the deal breaker. Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed, Embraer and Bombardier could all produce a supersonic civil aircraft if they so wished - but it would have such a small market, it wouldn't make financial or business sense for them to do so.

  • Re:Won't Happen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clang_jangle ( 975789 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @08:45AM (#35973506) Journal
    We hope some day ayaaayhayyy you'll join u-huh-us

    And ideeeee-yaaaaas will be free again!
  • Re:Won't Happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CharlyFoxtrot ( 1607527 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @08:48AM (#35973520)

    This and also : patented technologies used that might leave a company liable and similarly licensed technology used that cannot be open sourced. They're asking companies to take a product they are about to kill and spend a lot of money on it to go through the code weeding out anything that might expose them to lawsuits. In exchange for what, exactly ? It might be a boon to customers using legacy products but you want those using your new products, there's zero upside for companies on this.

  • Re:AIBO is dead? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @08:56AM (#35973578)

    to deal with all the sacred cows the company had accumulated over the years.

    So Sony is the corporate equivalent of a Mooby's? Wait... actually, that kinda makes sense.

    But no, the reason he was hired was to be a distraction, really. Sony's real business model has always been to try to take over [kotaku.com] the standard so that everyone has to license from them.

    Consider the following list:
    Beta vs VHS -> Sony collected royalties for over two decades on Beta in the form of Betacam recording and the professional TV industry (where image quality did in fact matter more).

    DAT vs standard audiotape vs CD Audio -> DAT was actually very popular in Europe and Asia for a good while. Licensing restrictions and "piracy worries" kept it mostly out of the US thanks to the MafiAA.

    Minidisc vs CD Audio -> See DAT. Minidisc eventually came back for another, even more stupid round as the "UMD" they were pushing in the PSP.

    ATRAC audio vs MP3 audio -> The reason nobody in their right mind would ever buy a Sony portable music player as compared to, say, a Nomad or iPod.

    Sony MemoryStick vs SD Memory Sticks -> Sony keeps pushing out their own proprietary lines of gear. PSP and a host of cameras keep this line alive and it sells, despite being way overpriced compared to the SD Micro format.

    Think about it. Why did the PS2 have a DVD drive? Sony was part of the DVD consortium. Why did the PS3 have a Blu-Ray drive? Same reason. Before the PS3 launched, HD-DVD was actually winning the format war despite Sony USA refusing to put out any of their movie catalog in the format.

    That's the Sony business model. Try to win a "format war" in a way that everyone has to pay you royalties to license your format. Everything else is ancillary at best.

  • Re:IP squatting (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29, 2011 @09:07AM (#35973674)
    I actually have no problem with this. They dusted off their IP and are using it again. If they were to leave it to languish and still sent out the C&D letters, then you would have a point of it being pointless.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29, 2011 @09:08AM (#35973688)

    Hence the definition of a "failed" project. Open Source it so the everyman can study it and break it appart reuse any pieces they find interesting. It's not just so someone can use it in business it's about knowledge sharing and general interest and possible unforseen resuses of technologies.

  • by noname444 ( 1182107 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @09:25AM (#35973816)

    Just release what you legally can. If someone is interested they can replace the floating point parts.

  • by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @09:50AM (#35974080)

    Look at Blender for example. It has became a MAJOR contender in the 3d space. the last release has taken steps that are starting to pass horribly overpriced commercial products like Maya.

    And by major contender you mean it's still used by almost no one in the game or movie industry, right?

  • Re:Won't Happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MarkGriz ( 520778 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @10:14AM (#35974348)

    Number 6: We don't anyone to know how crappy our code is

  • Re:Won't Happen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Digital Vomit ( 891734 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:11PM (#35975748) Homepage Journal
    You forgot a third reason:
    - Corporations have no intention of ever fulfilling their obligation to the public domain as demanded by copyright law.

BLISS is ignorance.