The idea of paying outsiders to work on product features is beginning to take hold. Neuros, a media device developer, is openly allowing owners to hack into their systems to build new features. Users that contribute needed features (like allowing YouTube & Google videos to play on the Neuros OSD, or adding VoIP functionality) will get paid between $500 and $1000.

As long as the bounties attract developers who can be turned into fans of the project in question, the benefits include:

  • Attracting attention to your product
  • Attracting the attention of hackers, who are typically early adopters (a la Crossing the Chasm), and mavens/connectors (a la The Tipping Point)
  • Helping to build a developer community
  • Identifying potential future employees
  • Cheaper than doing it in-house

The trick is to get developers who aren’t just bouncing from bounty-to-bounty.

PS: The Neuros website states:

“At Neuros, our unique commitment to open-source product development allows our users to be active participants in making our portable media devices the best in the world.”

Wow, what if all consumer electronics companies took this approach (Ahem..Apple), or at the very least, took the TiVo approach of not officially supporting mods, but wink, wink, supporting modifications? It’s a matter of time until all software companies take this approach, to varying degrees ;-)