“Open Technology” is a comfortable middle ground between open and closed source philosophies. The term refers to a design philosophy which results in systems themselves straight-forward to integrate. Here is a quick breakdown of the spectrum:
Linux provides an open source operating system. It can be audited, studied, or adapted by anyone for nearly any purpose.
Apple’s Homekit product is a closed system. It offers api integration points, but they are restricted so far as to be useless to anyone attempting to perform effective systems integration into their own custom platform.
Dwelo provides a platform for home automation including devices, user interfaces, and cloud resources. All api endpoints used by the company in their own interfaces are available to third parties for integration or development. The platform is closed source, but it can be integrated or customized very easily by third parties. For example, if someone didn’t care for the dwelo android app, they could easily go write their own. The system, including all data relating to the user, is fully accessible.
Open technology is not a widely adopted strategy. However, it offers some clear advantages. It makes the product more useful by allowing 3rd parties to make use of the product in ways never imagined by the company. This approach is already widely accepted in the video game industry, where players sometimes modify their favorite games into something even better. The advantages include:
- Good will and Trust. The end user is being shown respect in a manner that is not common. This can be extremely powerful in establishing brand loyalty.
- Market research and product development, for free. If someone goes through the trouble to build something around your platform, you can bet other people are going to be interested in it.
- Data. If a 3rd party is using your system in unique ways, you still gather all data moving through those endpoints.
I think it is clear that I’m a huge proponent of open technology. If you are interested in the subject there is an upcoming conference in San Francisco on the topic as it relates to the enterprise.