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The industry I will be analyzing is the high tech electronics and computer industry. Currently, they way business is done in this industry (for the most part) is that someone gets an idea, and keeps it to themselves and tries to follow through and make their idea a success, or gets bought out by a larger company looking for new ideas. What I want to do, is to give my ideas away to everyone, not just a select few, with the only condition being that they must, in turn, give away any ideas they have which are based on mine. What I hope this will do is establish a clear separation between ideas and production of a product for sale. When ideas are freely circulated, they become more powerful (and valuable) in direct proportion to the number of people who are exposed to them. In this way, ideas will be judged on their own merits, and not how well a product was marketed or produced. This will also result in producers being judged by how well they do production, rather than a bad producer surviving because they are the only ones with access to a revolutionary idea. Because I will freely circulate my ideas for all to see, someone may see another way of doing things that I did not, and return the favor that I did them by letting them see my idea by letting me see theirs. This model of doing business has been proven to work extremely well for the Linux operating system. Listed below are two papers on the web which I would recommend reading for more on the ideas that make Linux work.
The role the organization I want to create would play would be to act as a focal point for the the exchange of information, and would profit by taking the best ideas and turning them into real and marketable products. Instead of having my organization go through the first step of design, I would encourage entities and stake holders outside my organization to do the design phase of the process. This way, the end customer is intimately involved in how my products turn out in a way that no current company in the high tech industry can match. By doing this, I will eliminate several of the major risk areas in high technology. No one has a better idea of what they actually want than the customers, and if they have a stake in the design of a product, they will be much more likely to buy it than if they did not. My customers for my hardware products will be my suppliers for my 'intellectual property'.
Microsoft is a much larger player in computer hardware than what one might first think. By controlling the software that 95% of the PC hardware runs, they have the capability to dictate what succeeds and what fails. All of the current people in this industry are intensely competitive, mostly competing on price of the product. In my opinion, there is also very little innovation going on, as the standards are set by Microsoft and Intel, who are both large, established companies.
For my idea to work, It must be a substitute to what is currently offered. My company should also be able to resist being bought out. There is a very strong tendency in this industry for the big companies (especially Microsoft) to buy anyone that looks to be even a remote threat at being a competitor. I can accomplish being a substitute by using the already well developed Linux operating system, and many of the products available for it. My organization will also be able to resist a takeover attempt by releasing as much information as possible, as often as possible, under the conditions that if it is used and modified by someone else, they must also release the modifications back to the community. One reason that small innovative companies get bought out is so that the buyer gets control of all the ideas and intellectual property of the small company. If I make all my ideas and intellectual property available to the public, there is no way I (or anyone else) can take it away again. This would elimate most of the incentive for some larger organization to buy me out.
However, someone always brings up the point that anyone else can steal now steal my ideas and try to profit from them, or claim them as their own. I believe that this threat can be dealt with by the simple fact that my organization will continue to provide free information flow, and that this will be a very important selling point for any particular products I produce. My organization will be based on the free exchange of all information used to create my products, and not on any one particular product. This way I will be insulated from the dangers of depending on the success of one product or several related products. The only real danger I see is from a large corporation actively trying to put me out of business. This can be avoided by staying far enough from existing product lines to avoid being a threat and concentrate products on unfulfilled niches.
To make things even more difficult, I will be using a theory of operation that is many ways diametrically opposed to current business practices. Most people in the industry believe that to be successful, a technology company must hoard its ideas and protect them as their most valuable asset. Since my organization is based on the premise that ideas are only valuable if they are shared with everyone, this will be seen as a threat by organizations with the other mindset. I will find it extremely difficult to get specifications and information from large established companies because they will not want me to share this information.
I also want to solicit support from new entrepreneurs with ideas they would like to see implemented. The driving force for most entrepreneurs is that they see their ideas to completion. I want to build an organization that will provide the means to turn other's ideas into reality. I believe that something like this has not yet been done because of the state of communications and information technology had not yet reached the point to make this possible. I believe the internet is the sociological and technological means to make this finally happen. The success of the Linux operating system has proved that the concepts I talk about in this paper are valid for software design. Linux has shown that a group of interested people from all over the world, most of which have never even seen each other face to face can create something which is difficult for a multi-million dollar company like Microsoft.
I believe that these concepts that made Linux such a success can be applied to any technological or engineering endeavor. Computer hardware is next natural extension of where these ideas can be applied. I believe that Linux-style engineering development naturally tends to be a self controlling and directing operation, without the need for layers and layers of management that do little real productive activity. I view the process similar to the process of evolution in nature. The best-fit ideas compete among themselves for survival, and cross-pollinate among themselves to create better ideas. This theory only works if ideas and information are shared, and works better the more they are shared. I want to do this because it will create a quantum leap in productivity and allow all of us to do so much more than we can now.
Troy Benjegerdes / firstname.lastname@example.org