Projects 2010 > AlphaSphere > Journal
One of the major questions coming up, not immediately pressing, but worth considering even at this stage, is how to release the product, with an open-source or closed-source approach? In the first Work in Progress meeting, I made an analogy to the mobile phone market, Android and iPhone, the former working from a more 'open' philosophy and approach, and the latter operating in a more closed or 'curated' way which limits the activity and scope of the user, i.e. no flash. It's not a perfect analogy, as Android is a software operating system, which is free to use by the developer and the iPhone is a finished product, however it illustrates the point.
Looking at two competitive products in the electronic musical instrument market itself reveals two very different approaches to the end user.
1) Monome - taking an open-source philosophy from the outset, the developers of this product even release the schematics of the electronics, giving users the ability to expand and refine the existing desgin.
2) Tenori-on - the developers, Yamaha, have applied for over 40 patents, 7 design applications and 9 trademark applications. The irony of this is that a number of software apps are available for mobile and online, which near-perfectly replicate the operations of this sequencer.
Without getting into a conversation about the fundamentals of the concept of ownership, I'd say that in regards to this project, it's worth getting a balance between the 'curated' user experience, and the open-source ethos: developing a product which gives the user freedom to 'hack' and expand upon, but also gives instant accessibility to the casual user. It would be a problem to exclude users based on being either too technically demanding, or being so prescriptive in approach as to stifle innovation on a user end.
While, immediately, the AlphaSphere is about the physical experience of the object, there is huge potential for tapping into a user base who are savvy enough to expand upon the functions and features of the original, enriching the capabilities of the product.