It may be too early to declare it a runaway trend, but it is clear that businesses dedicated to producing “open software hardware” are gaining a foothold. In a short video, Phil Torrone ofMAKE and Limor Friend of Adafruit — two leaders in the field — give a quick run-down of thirteen companies that are now earning more than $1 milion in revenues from producing open-source hardware products. Most of these companies are in fact approaching the $5 million revenue mark, according to Torrone and Friend, who count about 200 open source hardware businesses right now, and predict 300-plus in 2011:
“Open source hardware” means that device designs can be freely replicated and modified by others, provided that credit is given to the original designer and that the derivative work is openly available to modification as well. The user-innovators cannot imply that their derivative device is tested, warranted or otherwise sanctioned by the original designer, nor can they use the original designer’s trademark.
So who are these companies and what are they producing?