[mythtv-users] MythTV as a retail product
mpgordon at comcast.net
mpgordon at comcast.net
Thu May 6 10:05:36 EDT 2004
In the past few days the excitement to bring the MythTV application to a wider audience has increased with discussion about the ability to deliver MythTV as a retail product.
MythTV is a great product and the developers should be proud of their creation.
MythTV and the discussion boards provide the collaboration and discussion necessary to generate new ideas that lead to new features. In general if a developer is looking for a new feature (eq Video Conferencing) the developer can use the appropriate tools to develop the feature within the MythTV environment and make their development available to the MythTV community. Like all part time development efforts the new features are added but are not refined to the point that they can be delivered to the retailed market. As the feature becomes usable the developer may lose interest or direct his/her to other development. I know because I am a developer and when developing on a part time basis my focus may not be on a single project. I guess what I am trying to say is that the current development environment is informal and is not structured to support a successful business model. I am not suggesting that the current model is wrong all I am saying is that the model is not structured for a business environment even for open source standards.
I too have entertained the idea of starting a business based on bring the MythTV product to the retail market. Putting aside the initial investment capital require to establish a successful business (small or large) the following are some of my observations.
A team of individual would be required to define a well though out business plan that must include the following:
∑ Who is the customer? What market will the business try to capture, high-end customer or lower end customers.
∑ Once the customer has been identified, what are the customer requirements? MythTV is packed with lots of really great features but are these features really what the customer wants? For example mythgames is a nice feature but do customers really want to intergrate their gaming system with their HTPC, especially when you can buy a Playstation for ~$150 that can support a variety of games (Action, sport, etc).
∑ The team will have to deliver one or two features that will distinguish MythTV from other companies like Tivo. These features would fill a want of the customer as well as being useful to targeted customer.
∑ Understanding the customer will allow the team to identify the appropriate hardware requirements.
∑ Understanding the customer will allow the team to put together an appropriate support model. Customers will require a certain level of support for the product; no support is not an option in any business model.
∑ A development plan needs to be put in place to refine those features that will be included in the productís first software release. I am not saying that MythTV is not refined but there are bugs and issues that would not be acceptable to the average customer. A bug tool needs to be used to track issues and outstanding bugs.
∑ The team will be require to put together a Quality Assurance test plan to not only make sure that that the product meets the customers requirements but also to ensure that the product is stable.
∑ The product needs to be marketed, produced and delivered to the customer.
The team of individual need to be committed to the business and focused (resisting temptations to feature creep).
It is my opinion that the team is not required to be centralized to a single geographical location.
My point of this post is that starting a business based on a MythTV product is more than message board discussion, simple organization and buying a bunch of PCs to create a successful business. The market needs to be analyzed and business goals set. Much of the discussions have been focused on HW and how to minimize the cost of the MythTV product and maximize profit (HW costs are important). One aspect of the system that is being overlooked is the software, does it fit the targeted customers requirements and stability expectations?
If there are others that share my same ideas and thoughts and wish to discuss further feel free to post discussion or send me a private e-mail.
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