This is the final entry in a series of five posts covering the various tracks in the Plasma Active initiative. In this closing article, we look at the track that aims to help bring out work to actual hardware.
On Monday, I will be writing a quick overview of some of the "big picture" goals and aspirations represented in Plasma Active, and on Friday of next week I will be sharing a preview of a new interaction feature that I've only referred to cryptically as "SLC" so far. Today, however, I hope you enjoy the outline of the fifth track in Plasma Active: Vendor Interaction.
The Big Challenge
There is an old, and odd, question: "If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" We could perhaps rephrase this for software: "If we write a program and no one uses it, does it matter that it was ever made?" There's obvious personal pleasure in the creative process itself, but if those of us working on Plasma Active are being honest with ourselves, we are making software to be used. To make our efforts mean as much as possible, we need to get it into people's hands.
We can distribute it over the Internet and hope people will download and install it on devices they have bought from the store, replacing what was already on those devices. Some will do just that; in fact, some have already started doing so with Plasma Active! However, the number of people who will do this is really quite small. It's an amazingly valuable group of users and contributors, but we'd like to see this thing go a lot further than the True Believers.
The best answer is to get it on devices that sell into the retail market and which, hopefully, do well in doing so. As with did with the operating system layer in years past, we could sit back and hope someone will come along. Historically, a few have. Remember the first EEE PCs? It's very hit-and-miss, however, and not sustainable. At least, that's what experience has taught us.
So we need to help things along.
Building A Fulfilling Business Community
Alongside the technology tracks, we are keen to create an entrepreneurial support, collaboration and partnership zone for those involved with Plasma Active. There are two primary motivations for this.
The first one is probably obvious: without a variety of support services and products available, the odds that a company that is creating a consumer device will choose Plasma Active plummets.
We can offer a certain amount of comfort by using well known technologies like the Linux kernel as well as by being compatible with software stacks with other backers, such as MeeGo. There remain a lot of gaps to fill, however, and we intend to fill them.
Being able to contract to experts in the technology, retain tech support services, engage with open marketplaces and know the legal standing of the technology being offered makes it easier for a vendor to adopt a software stack. If a consumer device vendor wishes to "go it on their own", that's great, but we realize that such companies will be few and far between. For the rest, we want to help support your efforts.
The second reason for purposefully crafting a business community stems from a desire to have a personally rewarding and ultimately enjoyable working environment. "It's just business" isn't good enough, and we want to build a business community alongside Plasma Active that is as open, innovative and intriguing as the technology itself.
We have big goals to fulfill and maybe even enough resources to meet them if we successfully grow the number of participants in Plasma Active. While there's always an element of luck and good timing to these things, planning is a huge part of determining success as is the atmosphere within those processes happen.
Those of us involved with Plasma Active wish to work within a positive, optimistic, energetic environment where ingenuity and problem solving are as natural as breathing. We feel that if we create such a positive space (and we can!), we'll not only enjoy it more but we'll also achieve more. We want to be able to share that positivity and sense of adventure with future partners as well. Using Plasma Active for your device or contributing a great piece of technology to it should an exciting and even inspiring experience, as all great journeys end up being.
As more companies become active within Plasma Active, we want their existence to be beneficial to the entire community, including those participating with non-monetary incentives, open source style.
In short, we want the business interests to not only amplify the efforts of each other but to create a space where we all wake up in each morning eager to dive in yet deeper and push yet further.
For the vendor track of Plasma Active, we will be announcing various services and products that support Plasma Active in the market. These announcements will be backed by companies that are involved, either today or in the future, with Plasma Active. This track has the fewest milestones of all the other tracks and that reflects both the time and effort it takes to put these things together. Software code can be written slightly quicker.
We will then endeavor to make potential Plasma Active hardware partners aware of what we have to offer, both technologically as well as in terms of business services. We will be looking not only at the "big boys" who sell millions of units per year, but will also be engaging with smaller vendors with the hope of helping them realize innovative and competitive products. There's a big market out there, and we see a lot of opportunity.
The announcements of services, products and outreach efforts will not be tied to a fixed schedule like the rest of the tracks. The vendor interactions track will follow a more punctuated
equilibrium due to the nature of the game.
As a side note, one reason it was decided to make this a separate but clearly stated track was that we wanted to be up-front about people having intentions to be entrepreneurial with Plasma Active, but we also recognize the need for those aspirations to be a parallel thread to the technology itself. The Plasma Active product must be something great technologically, visually, etc. regardless of the business interests. The Plasma Active community must be a level and equal playing ground for everyone involved, whether they have a monetary motive, a non-monetary motive or a mix of both. It's a fine balance, but while business can play an important role it must be done in deference to the community and the technology. We felt having a clearly stated separate track for these endeavors would communicate that clearest.
How You Can Get Involved
First and foremost, we want participants that focus on Plasma Active as a product and a community. For those who are participating who have relevant business associations or wish to scratch their entrepreneurial itch, we'd love to talk with you about how we can make that happen.
I can't stress enough how important it is to us to populate the business community around Plasma Active with positive, forward thinking people who value openness (while respecting confidentiality when needed) and who believe foremost in fair dealings.
If those two paragraphs describe you, in the words of Barry White, "let's get it on". Ok, maybe not in the way Barry meant it ... but we can always add more milestones. There is still lots of room at the Plasma Active partners table.