> To an extent, there have been some minor successes with the latter approach, perhaps not in terms of something that would satisfy those who expect volunteer projects to deliver something as polished and as cheap as a blockbuster product from a major manufacturer,
Looking at the history of continuation projects for older (now retro) computers from last century, in few years even the successful niche projects / companies products will be ridiculously outclassed in features (CPU performance etc) by the main line while costing at least as much, often even more.
I.e. they wither away fairly soon because the market is fairly small to start with & not growing much and it doesn't renew itself because devices are so expensive and there's no trend of buying new device every few years.
> but certainly in terms of figuring out the supply chain and manufacturing challenges in a fairly satisfactory fashion.
There needs to be some kind of growth path for the product, either with the device itself, in the accessories & peripherals available for it, or in how it can be used. Preferably with all of them.
I think open hardware and especially Arduino would be good models to look into and interact with. They've made the things really easy to use (even for kids) and extend and have engaged the artistic community and that provides new kind of creative uses for the devices.
Just look at the TED talk on Arduino and what it's being used for. :-)
Adding 3D printing and some retro computing/emulation stuff to the mix could give some interesting cross-pollination from some additional HW hacker communities.