We feel that it is now appropriate to give this community an update on the situation regarding SDR sharp. We are conscious of the fact that this has been a very emotive subject over the last few weeks and tempers have become rather frayed on occasions, but we hope that this note will give some context and that people will remain calm and refrain from posting statements that might further inflame what has been a difficult situation.
Firstly it is important to understand the background so that it is possible to gain an appreciation as to how we have arrived at this situation.
The RSP was launched to little fanfare in August 2014. SDRplay are a team of hardware developers and we saw an opportunity for a product that exploited a chipset from Mirics, that we felt had more potential than had previously been realised. At that point in time, our understanding of SDR sharp was that it was a piece of freeware whose source code was in the public domain, which was written by SDR enthusiasts to unlock the potential of the various SDR hardware platforms that had come to market and had gained widespread adoption, in particular those based on the RTL chipset. At that point, the Airspy product was not yet available and we knew nothing about it whatsoever, nor did we understand the linkage of Airspy and SDR Sharp and that SDR Sharp might actually be part of a larger commercial venture. We also had no idea that there had been various contributors to the SDR sharp project and that some of these contributors in addition to Airspy were also hardware developers. As far as we are aware, this information was not in the public domain at the time and even now, we are not certain to what extent this information (as to who is involved) is widely understood.
In the weeks following the launch of our product, we were a little surprised at some of the very negative and rather inaccurate statements being made about the RSP, but we simply put it down to either a misunderstanding of the platform or the usual ‘cut and thrust’ of the commercial world. We decided that SDRplay as a company would not engage in public arguments over the merits of one product vs another and would let the market decide. However, when the Airspy was announced, we started to realise that we had ‘ruffled some feathers’ by launching a product aimed broadly at the same price/performance point.
Over the next few months, things seem to calm down a little until this summer when there appears to have been a major re-structuring of the SDR sharp code (whose source code was now no longer in the public domain) which changed the Radio interfaces supported and ultimately how various hardware platforms might access certain key features of the software. What has become clear and has been acknowledged, is that these changes were made to provide the contributors to the SDR sharp project the maximum opportunity for commercial exploitation of their investment (be it in the form of intellectual property or finance) and to limit of the scope of those outside of the project to benefit from these investments. We want to make is absolutely clear that we see nothing wrong with this whatsoever and believe that it is a perfectly reasonable business practice. Nor do we see that is incumbent upon SDR Sharp or Airpsy to ‘go public’ on their motivations for the reasons behind the decisions that they made, but we do feel that the strong reaction that these changes have elicited are a result of a failure to understand the broader picture, because this broader picture was never widely communicated.
Up until recently we developed plugins for our hardware based upon the published interface as we understood that it was our responsibility to do so. Once we became aware that to unlock the full feature-set of SDR sharp, you had to be considered to be a ‘friend’ of SDR sharp, we reached out to the authors to try to understand that this might entail. It was at this point that they explained the history of the development of SDR sharp and that it became clear that only contributors to the project could be considered as a friend. To be absolutely clear, at no point was there any suggestion that anything posted on this or any other forum was the cause of SDRplay not being considered as a ‘friend’ it was simply that we as a company had not contributed to the project as a whole. Whilst the tone of discussions between the SDR sharp authors and members of this community may have become somewhat heated, we do not feel this was contributory in any way at all. This was a commercial decision pure and simple and one that was likely made some time ago.
We asked how we might contribute to the project and they responded that they would contact the other copyright holders and discuss. We subsequently reached out to them again, but thus far have received no further response.
At this stage, there is little more that we can do other than wait to see if they want to make a proposal as to what they feel we could contribute. From a commercial perspective, we feel that there is little reason for them to expand the hardware base supported by the software and perhaps the support for other platforms is only a consequence of legacy agreements.
So finally, we have decided that we will release the source code for our SDR sharp plugin to let this community do with it as they wish. If we can reach an accommodation with SDR sharp then we will certainly do so as we would still prefer this community to have the widest range of software available and SDR sharp remains an excellent tool for anyone interested in software define radio. We should stress that from what we understand, there is nothing more that we can do to our plugin to unlock the features that are currently unavailable to users of the RSP.
We hope that this sufficiently explains the situation as we understand it and that this explanation will help calm the situation. Once again, we hope that any comments on this matter will remain respectful to all parties.
We will publish news items here and other useful information
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