please note: We are referring to open source as the general set of open technologies (open source, open hardware, open access …etc) for more info read the FAQ
Is it possible that in our future, we can have consumer products where the underlying hardware and software are fully open?
Perhaps, but as it stands today, there is no economic incentive for the suppliers of technology to adopt this path.
Today, the development of consumer products is largely based on keeping the intellectual property proprietary (IP is where the value is) and mass manufacturing copies of the consumer goods we all use (copies are inexpensive). Naturally in economics every party in a negotiation is seeking to maximize their return and over the years this model has been carefully tailored towards maximizing the revenue of suppliers.
But what about the consumers of technology?
For an efficient economic outcome, in aggregate, consumers of technology must be able to negotiate on equal terms with suppliers to be able to maximize their utility. But for this to be possible consumers must have accurate and honest information about the items they are purchasing.
Unfortunately, An efficient outcome for the economy as a whole is not always the optimal outcome for the individual. One way to tilt the balance towards a better outcome for suppliers is by purposely misinforming consumers about the products they are purchasing. Normally this is done by advertising greater value for products (i.e. in the consumer mind) upon the basis of visual appearance, brands and other intangibles and leaving the necessary information (technical specifications, implementation details …etc) out of reach. Therefore consumers continuously engage in unhealthy over spending habits and wasteful consumption (with the environment consequences this carries) for the economic benefit of suppliers.
But this can change, open technologies can grow to become our standard for consumer products only if, we as consumers start demanding honest and accurate information about the products we purchase, and we start valuing/purchasing technology for what it is: applied science and not magic.
It is through our collective use and financial support of open products, that we can contribute towards making of open technology a requirement and not an option.
Until then, we will work to facilitate the progress in this direction.