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Yasir Siddiqui

TIMReview_January2014.pdf - 0 views

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    An interesting article on different busines models based on open-source
Tiberius Brastaviceanu

Design Like No One Is Patenting - How SparkFun Stays Ahead of the Pack | Wired Design |... - 0 views

  • Electronics supplier SparkFun designs dozens of products a year and they haven’t patented a single one. It’s worked out pretty well so far.
  • makes its living by shipping kits and components like bread boards, servo motors and Arduino parts to a mixture of students, hobbyists, and professionals making prototypes
  • the company has made its name is in a stable of its own custom parts and kits, the designs for which it gives away for free.
  • ...40 more annotations...
  • “We find that people will copy your design no matter what you do,” she says. “You might as well just play the game and go ahead and innovate. It’s fun, it keeps us on our toes.”
  • “The open source model just forces us to innovate,” says Boudreaux.
  • the open hardware model means that SparkFun’s existence depends not on any particular product, but on an ongoing relationship with customers that’s not too dissimilar to the loyalty commanded by a fashion house.
  • wolf of obsolescence is always at electronics’ door
  • don’t spend much time worrying about the copyists, they just keep releasing new looks
  • it’s about staying relevant and filling the needs of the community
  • SparkFun’s rapid turnover model is one that echoes the fashion industry.
  • keep their service exemplary
  • listening to their customers
  • developed a community of loyal users and fans
  • weekly new product posts
  • You can learn a lot about what a company cares about by looking at what they give away and what they protect.
  • SparkFun’s actual value is in the community of fans and loyal customers that keep coming back, and the expertise under its roof in servicing their needs.
  • Their catalog has about 2,500 items at any given time
  • SparkFun orders parts from 500 suppliers
  • 15 new products every week
  • hey retire products at a similar rate, due to either low sales, or obsolescence
  • Of the 2,500 items, about 400 are things designed internally.
  • To handle the pace of change, SparkFun needs to keep its inventory lean.
  • “We try to do small runs and order in small quantities. Especially something that’s going to be obsolete quickly.”
  • To help manage the demand, they use an in-house software system
  • along with inventory and CMS management, tries to predict demand for different components and ensure they get ordered with sufficient lead time to account for how long it takes to get there.
  • the innovation (revisions and new releases) here at SparkFun is organic and not planned,” says Boudreaux, “But we do a few things to make sure we are keeping up.”
  • monitors all costumer feedback from emails to the comment section that is present on every page of the company’s site. They also ensure that team members have time to tinker in the office, write tutorials, and visit hackerspaces and maker events. “For us, designing (and revising) widgets is the job.”
  • anyone in the company can suggest ideas and contribute designs.
  • ideas run through an internal process of design, review, prototyping, testing and release.
  • “They eat these products up, even if the products are not ready for the mainstream & educator community due to minimal documentation or stability.”
  • symbiotic relationship with these early adopters, where feedback helps SparkFun revised and improve products for use by the rest of the community
  • I don’t think they help much
  • The risk of this rate of change is that SparkFun can end up outpacing some of their customers.
  • “There’s balance in everything,” says Boudreaux, “Innovation does not necessarily need speed in order to create valuable change. Sometimes innovation works at a slower pace, but that does not mean it is any less valuable to those that benefit from it, and we are constantly balancing the needs of two very different customers.”
  • unprotected and unencumbered by patents
  • racing to get the latest, coolest things in the hands of its customers.
  • patents
  • “We have to be willing to kill ideas that don’t work, take a lot of tough criticism, and move fast. If we stay agile, we stay relevant.”
  • cost $30,000 to $50,000
  • USPTO is so backed up you’ll have to wait three to five years to even hear back on their decision.
  • how much does technology change in five years?
  • company’s blog where they’ve been documenting production and business practices for years.
  • they even want to open source Sparkle. “It’s a wild ride,” she says, “but a fun one for sure.”
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    shared by Jonathan, annotated by Tibi
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