Cash for the merchandise, cash for the breakthrough

How can open source achieve the breakthroughs it needs and beat Apple at its own game?What about cash and fabulous prizes?

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Mark Shuttleworth wants a great Linux desktop. Google, LiMo and Symbian are looking for an interface competitive with the iPhone.

How can open source achieve the breakthroughs it needs and beat Apple at its own game?

What about cash and fabulous prizes?

The vendors who are seeking to mass-produce these wonders should get together and offer a big cash prize. Make it a contest.

My idea here is modeled on the X-Prize which delivered the SpaceShipOne, now preparing for commercial launch as Virgin Galactic.

Ubuntu, Dell, GNOME, anyone who wants a Mac-like Linux interface could get together one pot of money. Symbian, Google, and LiMo, through their partners and backers, could put up another pot for an iPhone-like interface.

Bang the drum, set a deadline, you can probably sell this one as a reality show. Winner goes into production.

Apple created its interfaces with large teams -- the iPhone team was led by Jonathan Ive -- and the winner of this contest could make more than Ive ever dreamed.

There is no contradiction between the ideals of open source and the idea of big financial rewards. Those who benefit from the open source model are now large enough to offer such rewards.

So who would host the show? Howie Mandel? Peter Gabriel? Or how about someone even higher-profile, like Bill Gates?

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