[Discuss] Economics Re: Free Hardware

Nancy Ouyang nancy.ouyang at gmail.com
Sat Mar 21 17:58:44 UTC 2015

Replying under a new thread title -- with respect to

 the benefits that it can bring to companies, even at levels of strategy.

You may find these links interesting, the general keyword being
"shanzhai" 山寨文化



> many Shenzhen factories have adopted a model of open source sharing in
> order to lower production costs. They have informally organized a
> peer-to-peer database for sharing hardware design schematics and the bill
> of materials (BOM), a list of materials used in manufacturing a particular
> product. The open sharing of these resources allowed the factories to lower
> production costs to stay competitive in a global market.
> This form of open source manufacturing has co-evolved with the formation
> of new production sites, including, for example, counterfeit/copycat design
> houses. Over the years, these copycat productions have adopted these open
> source processes and moved beyond simply copying popular brands such as
> Nokia or Apple. Today they often produce new, consumer-specific products,
> such as *mobile phones with additional features tailored to particular
> customer segments or location-specific demands.* Examples include
> dual-SIM-card mobile phones that support two operator networks on one
> device—such as the G5 phone, a made-in-Shenzhen brand for the Indian
> market—and phones with built-in compasses that are shipped to consumers in
> the Middle East, who may need to know the direction of Mecca during prayers
> [11
> <http://interactions.acm.org/archive/view/november-december-2012/created-in-china#R11>
> ,12
> <http://interactions.acm.org/archive/view/november-december-2012/created-in-china#R12>
> ].* Many of these innovations were later reappropriated by mainstream
> mobile manufacturers; for example, in 2010 Nokia launched two dual-SIM
> mobile phones.*
> Copycat productions from Shenzhen are often described with the term
> *shanzhai* ([image: intr1906_c.gif]). However, in the hackerspace
> community,* shanzhai now speaks to a new form of innovation based on the
> principle of open source manufacturing and continuous remaking*

http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=284, which links to
"香烟?手机?还是香烟手机?" (yep, that's a cellphone-box-of-cigarettes and a

To give a flavor of how this is viewed in China, I heard a local comment
> about how great it was that the shanzhai could not only make an iPhone
> clone, *they could improve it by giving the clone a user-replaceable
> battery. US law would come down on the side of this activity being illegal
> and infringing,* but given the fecundity of mashup on the web, I can’t
> help but wonder out loud if mashup in hardware is all that bad. I feel
> there is definitely a bias in the US that “if it’s strange and it happens
> in China it must be bad”, which casts a long shadow over objective
> evaluation of new cultural phenomenon that could eventually be very
> relevant to the US.

My personal favorite shanzhai story is of the chap who owns a house that
> I’m extraordinarily envious of. His house has three floors: on the top, is
> his bedroom; on the middle floor is a complete SMT manufacturing line; on
> the bottom floor is a retail outlet, selling the products produced a floor
> above and designed two floors above. H*ow cool would it be to have your
> very own SMT line right in your home! It would certainly be a disruptive
> change to the way I innovate to own infrastructure like that *


and linked articles therein, such as

You may also find perusing the archives of this list interesting:

And well, you did ask for our personal thoughts...

Oh --- another thought ---
What my friends and I who have visited China agree on is that people here
(in the US) seem to be completely underestimating

   - [the number and sheer determination of poorly paid academic/technical
   expertise in China]

combined with

   - [the co-location of manufacturing expertise, equipment, and supply

Aka, in China, all the poorly paid STEM folks (that we have in the US as
well, see academia), are starting to find themselves in an environment
where they can translate their innovations and creativity into $$$.

*This is a fundamental difference in the software and hardware worlds *that
I doubt some people (cough rms cough) have any idea about.

If, in the Western English-speaking world, we just focus on *competing *and
lawyering our competitors, eventually other countries, because they're
working on more fun / exciting things and collaborating just as much as
they are competing, *are going to eat our lunch.*

so let's join them instead! :)

narwhaledu.com, educational robots <http://gfycat.com/ExcitableLeanAkitainu>
 [[<(._.)>]] my personal blog <http://www.orangenarwhals.com>,
Researcher, Postmodern Robotics Group, MIT Electronics Research Society

On Sat, Mar 21, 2015 at 8:31 AM, Adriano Zianna <adriano.zianna86 at gmail.com>

> Hi guys,
> My name is Adriano and I'm studyind economincs.
> Actually I'm finishing my studies and I'm writing the thesis. Topic of my
> thesis is the open source and his experiences, including the open hardware.
> So I wanted to ask yousome questions:
> What do you believe about the development of open hardware in the present
> and in the future, and the benefits that it can bring to companies, even at
> levels of strategy.
> Thank you so much your precious attention
> With Best Regards
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