For many of us, the concept of "design by committee" has negative connotations—a kind of R&D version of "too many cooks spoil the broth." Psion Teklogix, however, sees it differently.
The mobile computer maker has created a network of more than 200 developer partners around the world to spur the development of new applications and designs for Psion's products. To facilitate collaboration and information sharing among these partners, the company earlier this year launched an online community called Ingenuity Working. Nearly 900 individuals in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and North America are now connected through that community.
You might wonder why the company would choose this approach to development instead of keeping its product information proprietary. In a blog post on the community's website (IngenuityWorking.com), Todd Boone, Psion's director of corporate communications, discusses the company's decision to take the open source route. Psion Teklogix believes the open source business model is the way of the future because it's driven by customers' needs, not internal corporate imperatives, he writes. Boone adds that success will come when a community of customers, partners, and developers—rather than marketing and engineering—makes product decisions.
The approach appears to be working. The company says its new Omnii XT10 handheld computer incorporates upgradeable and interchangeable modules that were developed by Psion's own engineers and the Ingenuity Working community.
In addition to an array of blogs, the Ingenuity Working website offers a number of items likely to interest the technology-minded. They include twitter feeds, a partner directory with links to member companies, and discussion strings on everything from Linux/Android applications to RFID and hardware design. (Sample posting: "I tried to flash the firmware on a Workabout Pro G2 to the latest CE5.0 but now the G2 is stuck at 'image not digitally signed' prompt at boot. Anybody have any ideas on how to get past this?") A new feature, called "Ingenuity Live," allows partners to show the solutions they have developed using Psion's products.