the nano is good design.
There are lots of ways to regard "good design". Let's just be as simple as possible and regard two common ways of evaluating good design.
1) Works well for intended function
2) Looks good
The two are often more intertwined than this simple formula, but you get the idea. Here's my current favorite example of dysfunctional design
2008 Lexus LS 600h L Hybrid
Engine / Horsepower 5L V8 438 hp
Fuel Economy 22 / 24
Other examples – Apple computer one button mouse, apple computer round mouse, Apple computer G3-4 case. Most small cell phones.
It turns out to be impossible to evaluate a design without a design brief. The Arduino team and I probably don't disagree too much on what constitutes good design. We probably disagree more on the design brief (design specs).
I think the Freeduino should be a commodity design, with utility and function as the foremost qualitites. The real utility in a Freeduino is in the Atmega chip, which costs $2.30 or so in quantity. There are no designer Atmega chips with mother of pearl tops, or blue blinking LED's because it is a commodity. It works superbly, virtually without fail, and anyone in the world can buy it for around $2.30.
My idea is that the microcontroller board should just be a commodity representation of the Atmega chip. Works flawlessly, cheap as hell. With engineering and art of course, it's never that easy and there are always lots of trade offs.
The Arduino team seems to want to make brand name products. I mostly like their engineering, although the much-noticed pin 7-8 gap jumps out. I even like and use some Apple products. This doesn't mean I like the fetishized and aggressive industrial design so typical of Apple products. The term designer water is a pejorative for good reason. Some things are just more honest (and better designed) as commodities.
I would argue that Brian's design is better than the Nano because it's easier to produce, as small, and avoids needless complexity such as 4-layer boards (not to mention LED's you know where). Then again he doesn't have all the functionality in there such as a voltage regulator. Even if his board was 20% bigger it would be a more useful board to most people because it costs $30 instead of $50.
For a small subset of Freeduino applications, the Nano might be more appropriate. It looks sexy. So does the Lexus – to someone. Call me puritanical.
As to Lady Ada's comments about my products not having a retail margin built in, of course she is correct. In reality my business model is not sustainable and eventually (probably sooner) I'll have to raise prices and concentrate on other things, which have more profit in them. Although the team may not appreciate it, the real purpose of my commodity Freeduino's, is the promotion of the greater Freeduino project.
Footnote: Freeduino is used here as the set of all Arduino and Arduino-compatible hardware.