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For Hardware Makers, Sharing Their Secrets Is Now Part of the Business Plan

By The New York Times

March 30, 2015

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Makers of computer, automotive, and other high-tech hardware components increasingly are adopting an open source model, sharing each other's once-proprietary designs in order to accelerate technology development.

Facebook's Jay Parikh reports his company has shared designs for data storage, computer servers, and other hardware, and he notes Facebook has consequently seen rapid enhancements. The company's strategy has enabled Facebook to see numerous variants that individuals and companies produce inexpensively, and they frequently contract with prototype makers over marketplaces such as Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba, or they may use three-dimensional printers.

Similarly, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk donated all of his company's patents, arguing "technology leadership is not defined by patents, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world's most talented engineers."

All kinds of developers can now find each other and swap ideas thanks to massive global connectivity.

Make Media CEO Dale Dougherty notes companies that open-source their hardware are typically not doing so for altruistic purposes. "It can create competition for your enemy without spending money on a new product," he says.

Giving business a jolt can be another goal, as Facebook's open designs have fostered commercial relationships that reduce its supply costs and accelerate innovation.

From The New York Times
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Abstracts Copyright © 2015 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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