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The power of the copy of the copy

dcuartiellesApril 21st, 2011

I just published a quick article on my findings in Bangalore, India, about some Arduino compatible boards made as a copy to some other Arduino compatible boards. It is the story of how viral an electronic design with an open license can become.

If being copied is a sign of being into making something right, what does it mean that someone copies the copy of your design?

This is the question that I am asking myself since the moment I yesterday discovered people here (Bangalore, India) making copies of copies of Arduino boards. Let me explain this at once: the Arduino boards are cheap for Europeans and Americans, but no matter how cheap the production is in the EU, importing them to India -where I am these days- makes them slightly more expensive to the final user.

Arduino Uno at Bangalore's Electronics Market

Arduino Uno at Bangalore's Electronics Market

Read the full article at Medea’s Research Blog.


6 Responses to “The power of the copy of the copy”

  1. Says:

    Come on!
    We want more pictures!


  2. Eric Says:

    The poster says it is the Ardunio instead of the Arduino they are selling 🙂

  3. ram Says:

    It happens that this article of yours is just showing the bad side of the whole thing in bangalore. It would also be good if you could write an article on what you found good (Its always good to see both sides of the coin)!

    I think definitely the innovation level in India is also catching up speed and soon are the days when one will find products developed in India being cloned elsewhere !Its only the cost of innovation that is stopping a lot of hackers which should soon get better !


  4. dcuartielles Says:

    Dear Ram,

    I am sorry if you felt offended by my article, but I think you are making the wrong reading of it. It is about open source design, and about the importance of open licenses to make things better for every one no matter the country of origin, economic power or educational level.

    I am not being critical to what I have found. I am trying to say that it feels good to create educational tools that can be replicated and reused. It is a subjective reflection about feeling good doing what I do because I like what it generates. I am really pleased to see that the knowledge I have been contributing to create is not just in a shelf in a library. It is being used in classes, helping people learning, helping others making businesses, etc.

    The title of the article is about the power that open source brings during the iterations of the design and adoption by users.

    On the other hand, I am pretty sure India is a very strong country when it comes to innovation. I don’t have the slightest doubt about it. The first time I came here, 6 years ago, I introduced our first prototype at Pune’s supercomputing center … how do you think I felt then when I was presenting a 8KB processor board to a bunch of researchers running a computer with thousands of processors that happened to have designed the motherboards by themselves? Or when I asked a 20 year old undergrad about how many programming languages he knew and he answered “five”?

    I have for sure seen a lot of great things in India, and I am still not done reporting about my findings. I am sure you will like my next article.

    If you analyze the history of technology over the last decades you will see how Japan first, South Korea second, China third and now India have been countries that have been catching up with the technological development at really high speeds thanks not to copying (which technically is nothing but a way of learning), but because of a really powerful intellect driving the technological development. So it is my belief that India is going to be a power in hardware as it is already in software.

    I hope I managed to explain those two things:

    1. I was not being critical because of my findings, I was happy to see the work spread
    2. I am aware of India’s potential

    Thanks for your opinions,


  5. Ram Says:

    Hi David,

    I just wanted to make a point that portrayal of the brighter side of things like people with such constraints with both manufacturing, competition ..etc are able to create such designs would definitely motivate them !

    Finally, the arduino blog is followed religiously by a lot of hackers, designers, artists in India and it would be great if user stories in a positive sense make it to the article so that more people here would be motivated to take up good designs and work ! I hope that the next article of yours would meet this !


  6. Miguel Ferreira Says:

    “Arduino boards are cheap for Europeans” ? if 35 to 40 Euros is cheap (+ shipment)… it actualy cost less if i buy one clone from USA or china and pay for urgent shipment 🙁

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