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Topic: Market Research for Arduino products (Read 3 times) previous topic - next topic


Jul 03, 2010, 01:09 pm Last Edit: Jul 03, 2010, 01:10 pm by daveg360 Reason: 1
My thoughts:

I aways got the impression that it all started because a few people thought it was a great idea.  I work for a gigantic company that wouldn't stock the toilets with a different brand of toilet paper without endless research and cost/benefit analysis.  However sometimes people just do things without thinking about it too much - very occasionally it works out.  I suspect this road is littered with the corpses of many instances where it didn't.  I wouldn't be surprised if the lack of sales data is due to the people involved having more important things to do.
In terms of your comments about revenue - what would you call engineering costs?  People's time developing?  I've spent days and days working on a couple of projects.  I'm not interested in IP rights or anything like that - if anything I've done can help others, they're more than welcome to it.  I suspect many people involved in open source are the same.
I think it's the same as looking at a charity with the eyes of a commercial organisation - it just doesn't make sense.  What's in it for these people?  It varies - but the only thing you can pretty much be sure of is: it's not the money.

Wow I'm rambling like Grandpa Simpson today.
If your system involves lethal voltages/life critical/flamable elements - you probably shouldn't need to ask.
The Arduino != PC.


Jul 03, 2010, 03:48 pm Last Edit: Jul 03, 2010, 04:39 pm by solderflux Reason: 1
Hello daveg360, I agree with most of the things your saying.

According to various articles about Arduino, it started life in Academia. That tells us the funding came from within a University department, and at some point, there was a thought about making Arduino a commercial proposition by its inventors. Perhaps without the teeth of corporate acumen, but still a revenue generating scheme.

I'm not suggesting that Arduino should be turned into a commercial monster that will alienate its original followers and put an end to its open source nature. Remember that Arduino is great for many types of user and let's not detract from that.

What I am trying to do is explore ideas to improve Arduino's usefulness to professional developers. But I'd want a return on my investment for developing new hardware. Resellers (e.g. Sparkfun and RS Components) have to make money to pay their bills. So there is nothing rebellious and shocking about wanting to charge for physical products.

So what's involved in development costs for retail, you ask? Money is spent on:

1. Licensing CAD tools for PCBs (on "for profit" terms).
2. Procurement of electronic components.
3. The manufacture of the boards.
4. The required tests - manufacturing tests for quality assurance and electrical compliance (e.g. CE mark).
5. Getting the product out to the distributors and being sold.
6. The developers time if they are to earn a living.

In academia, a grant fund would cover the costs, and intelligent labour is somewhat voluntary. The end goal is different, because academics aren't generally interested in making big money from their ideas, but sharing their findings. Sound familiar?

I used to work for a well known semiconductor business. The finance controller had asked engineering departments to work out cost per head of its employees. After the costs of EDA tool licensing were added up and divided by the headcount, we cost something extortionate per day as our booking cost! At that rate of burn, you need a good cashflow. But that is how it works.

I think people need to learn and respect that Opensource hardware does not mean "free of cost" as it does for software. It just cannot be at zero cost for everyone. Yes I acknowledge that the Arduino team have published a few reference designs, and the developer community have shared their work, but you can see that the originator of this process had to give out in the first place.

I say let developers decide the value of their work. Those who want to do it for free, carry on unaffected, but those who need to charge something for their work, please can the Arduino team provide information of use to market research activity. Both routes lead to enhancing Arduino in my humble opinion.

The information desired is a breakdown of production quota out of the Italian factory and to where these boards were sent to by country, year on year. We don't need to know who the resellers are or the quota they individually received - everything can remain anonymous. Protect the information via non-disclosure agreement to be controlled about it.


Jul 03, 2010, 04:48 pm Last Edit: Jul 03, 2010, 04:51 pm by pwillard Reason: 1
Here is my opinion (Solderflux, like you, I am making assumptions):

The Arduino project is the result of the merging other already existing open source ideas/projects. (Wiring and Processing)  The original WIRING board that influenced the Arduino's design was much more expensive and Arduino grew out of the desire to have a simpler,  more affordable hardware solution.

It was made easier by the fact that the GUI design existed (WIRING) and the back-end open source compiler existed, AVR GCC.

Assuming that there was a huge development cost... like those involved in creating a solution fro the ground up... might be a bit of a stretch.  I'm not discounting what the team has done...   I'm just saying that it was the re-usability of existing open source projects that made Arduino easier to develop.

As for CAD... I believe that the board size is below the limitations of the low-cost/free EAGLE CAD software so maybe an expensive CAD solution was not considered part of development cost.

Jeff K

The information desired is a breakdown of production quota out of the Italian factory

If this information is available, it may not be as useful as you think.  No one knows how many hundreds of boards are being shipped from China.  There are also plenty of distributors who do not sell an "official" Arduino.  They could be printing the boards themselves or getting boards from China.  There could be 2x - 10x more Arduino clones being produced by third parties.

But in the end, the more information you can get the better.  If the Arduino team has this information to release it will be helpful.  It may not be enough to woe over some investors, but it should tell you if you can support your development costs.

BTW- I have tried contacting the Arduino team in the past for information on obtaining/licensing and selling "Official" Arduinos.  They never responded back to me.  If they don't have the time to do that, chances are they don't have time to respond about market research.
Jeff K - JKDevices.com - home of the MegaMini


Opensource hardware has a real cost to the original developer

This is a poor assumption imo, despite everybodies claim that it costs nothing to duplicate the bits in the program, compared to hardware stuff.. software takes just as much time, if not more, to create. Time is money, and especially in the world outside of opensource software.. expect to pay for absolutely everything (OS, editor, e-mail, libraries, online services, etc. etc.). Why is it easy to ignore the nights you spend coding, and not the couple of cents for that diode?

That aside (since it has little meaning to the actual topic, just wanted to share that bit), you raise an interesting point in regards to proffessionals.
The arduino platform isn't intended for proffessional use (as in, to end up in the final product), but, it can be a fantastic (simple) prototyping tool.. which it is being sold as.
The proffessional makes a prototype with the arduino, and if it is well received by the financers, develops his or her own print with the atmel chip, and sells that...
And that is the key difference, suddenly it isn't an arduino anymore!
This also means it is suddenly an entirely different market, suddenly you are selling to the 'ignorant masses', instead of people who are interested if not specialised in the area of hardware.

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