Emerging Business Models for Open Source Hardware

Journal of Open Hardware, 1(1): 2, pp. 1–14, 2017

14 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2019

See all articles by Joshua M. Pearce

Joshua M. Pearce

Western University ; Michigan Technological University; Aalto University

Date Written: March 21, 2017


The rise of Free and Open Source models for software development has catalyzed the growth of Free and Open Source Hardware (also known as “Libre Hardware”). Libre hardware is gaining significant traction in the scientific hardware community, where there is evidence that open development creates both technically superior and far less expensive scientific equipment than proprietary models. In this article, the evidence is reviewed and a collection of examples of business models is developed to service scientists who have the option to manufacture their own equipment using Open Source designs. Profitable Libre Hardware business models are reviewed, which includes kit, specialty component, and calibration suppliers for makers. The results indicate that Libre Hardware businesses should target technically sophisticated customers first and, as usability matures, target expanded markets of conventional consumers.

Keywords: Open Source, Open Source Hardware, Libre Hardware, Business Models, Innovation

Suggested Citation

Pearce, Joshua M., Emerging Business Models for Open Source Hardware (March 21, 2017). Journal of Open Hardware, 1(1): 2, pp. 1–14, 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3331121

Michigan Technological University ( email )

Houghton, MI 49931
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.mse.mtu.edu/~pearce/Index.html

Aalto University ( email )

P.O. Box 21210
Helsinki, 00101

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