It’s not that the market is un-viable. The market for the MaslowCNC is the same as the market for EVERY hardware product, whether it is Open-Source HardWare, or whether it is Proprietary HardWare.
The market for hardware is the same as the market for infrastructure.
They are Fixed-Size Niche-Markets, with a maximum market size.
With Open-Source HardWare, the market behaviour is even more different, as each customer you sell a tool to, becomes another Competitor to your business.
- I saw this from watching a colleague run a business making and selling 3D-Printers.
His initial profit margin was based upon selling the printers, but his long-term profit margin came from providing local support services to people who bought/built them.
The market size for printer sales, was based upon how many people he could sell his services to before his customers became his competitors, so he was only able to run this side of the business as a viable business opportunity for three years before his demand dropped to the point of commodity value.
However while this market was shrinking, the market for his local support services was expanding. The customers that he had in other localities, became his peers, providing support services in other geographical areas.
- The other thing about the Open-Source/Commodity markets is that they are limited-size, locally-based, support-services market-niches.
If you are doing your job properly, then you will put yourself out of work.
I did this myself in the early 2000’s.
I converted most of my customers to using Linux, rather than using Windows. This meant that the regular donkey-work i was getting, where i was doing the same things every six months, changed to working on new and chewier problems.
It meant that the business i was running ceased to be a short-term profitable market niche, but this had two effects.
My customers were making more money themselves, as they didn’t have the functionality problems that they needed me to fix, so they were making more profit for themselves.
When they did call me, the problems that i was asked to solve were the really chewy problems, that they could not fix themselves, so my skills were not stagnating.
As an added bonus, i got to play with some really chewy hardware, so my skills improved.
- A better way to think about Hardware Design, Research, Development, and, Support, is that they are all different Market Niches that exist simultaneously within different stages of the overall technology life-cycle.
The initial “Most Profitable Niche” is in the sales to customers who don’t have that piece of HardWare yet.
The long-term profitable niche is the selling of Support Services, but this requires a minimum level of market penetration before it becomes a viable niche, within a specific geographical locality.
The Design, and, Research, market niches are another thing to explore, as the main expense is the Time that the Designers, and, Researchers, have available.
This can be worked around through the use of Patreon, Liberapay, or any of the other Crowd-Funding platforms.
Raise the equivalent of a pro-rata market-rate salary, and you’ve got the project funded for that length of time.
And the people who have a track record of doing this successfully, will be most likely to get the funding for their next project, as they have already shown that they can do it.
This is important for successful creative mental work as avoiding the risk of burn-out is something that we should all be practising, if we want to produce our best efforts.
The real question should be “What would they like to work on next?”