Branding and intellectual property issues are also more complicated in open sourced projects. If designs are open to anyone, then the owner of those designs cannot ensure uniform quality for the finished products. And it is more difficult for firms to track and monetize the finished goods themselves. Open sourcing requires a fundamentally different attitude than firms typically take towards collaboration. These firms must reconceive how a product's worth can be captured and distributed, and weigh the tradeoffs between transparency and intellectual property protection.
Despite these challenges, we believe open source models have significant untapped potential when it comes to hardware. Imagine, for example, if automakers formed ongoing relationships with hobbyists (like Team WIKISPEED) or even small third parties working on the edges of their industry. These smaller groups, if given access to hardware and designs, could bring fresh ideas to the table. In return, these groups would have access to the larger firm's infrastructure, machines, and expertise. We believe that such a model could advamce learning for all and encourage the development of solutions to some of the industry's toughest challenges (for example, creating more fuel efficient cars at affordable prices).
This mutually beneficial relationship creates a scenario where each participant can tap into the skills of others in the network while contributing their own skills to the mix. We believe open source hardware is a step towards a model of economic interactions based on trusting relationships, a model which can create valuable results for everyone involved.