If I may, I think the biggest problem Axoloti has, is a physical one.
Say you were able to add more inputs, more outputs etc, you're still going to be left with the same physical restriction of the board being a pre-populated design. To me, it's the one mistake Johannes made in his decision making, the rest is pure gold. For Axoloti to be accepted with open arms in a commercial way, the board needs to be released completely un-populated. No power jack, no Micro-USB, no USB, no Micro-SD, no audio jacks ... nothing.
Nothing but the board itself and a header where the user can connect whatever breakout modules they wish, because it would:
- Allow users to decide where every physical connection is placed when designing/building their hardware.
- Allow users to decide whether they want SD/Micro-SD/USB
- Allow users to decide whether they want power from a jack, USB, or even a battery connection module.
- Allow users to decide whetever type of audio connection they would like.
- Allow users to decide whether they want USB MIDI or MIDI DIN, and if so, how many of them.
You get the idea.
It would even (I reckon) give Johannes the means to start an Axoloti Store where he could sell the unpopulated board using an intelligent add-on cart for the store. Say Axoloti Core was unpopulated, and a customer adds it to the cart and heads for the checkout, the intelligent cart could point out that they have not selected a power connection, audio connection, or storage. In the store there should be readily available breakout boards designed for Axoloti Core, for example:
Under power boards there could be options like:
- USB Power board
- Power Jack board
- Battery connection board
Under storage boards there could be options like:
- Micro-SD card
- SD Card
- USB Drive
- CF Card
Under audio connection boards there could be options like:
- 3.5mm Stereo Jack x1, x2
- 3.5mm Mono Jack x1, x2
- 1/4" Stereo Jack x1, x2
- 1/4" Mono Jack x1 ,x2
- RCA Jack x1, x2
Under MIDI connection boards there could be options like:
- MIDI DIN x1, x2, x3
- USB MIDI
Under display boards there could be options like:
Then you could have button banks, knob banks etc. All board options are basically breakout boards that connect directly to an unpopulated Axoloti Core board. And because the modules are seperate, this means that the core could be even smaller and less complex. For example, the CF and SD boards would have their relative electronics accompanying them on their own boards. Bringing down the cost of things in solo, but allowing Johannes to make more profit because he'd be pulling in the custom he's currently losing to eBay and AliExpress etc.
In a financial sense, eBay are making more money out of Axoloti than Johannes is. Eveyone who buys an Axo ultimitely want to build hardware. With the options outlined above, Johannes would be able to cover you whatever you need, with the added benefit of you being guaranteed to just plug it right into your Axoloti Core and it will be guaranteed to work.
Whenever the forum start banging-on about something new they would like to see, it would give Johannes to power to say, ok then, I'll create a break-out board for that and add the relevant object to Axolot Patcher. See that's the beauty of it, each breakout board technically consists of the board itself and the relevant object in Axoloti core, and Johannes would have quality control over both.
Johannes already has his head around all of that with the Core, so that means you'd get purpose-designed breakout boards that just plug into your unpopulated Axoloti Core, and off you go! And from a commercial point of view this makes all the difference. Because all breakout boards would have screw-fixing holes pre-drilled, so that placing any of these boards, no matter what they are, is simply a matter of screwing them into place, wherever you wish to place them - with total freedom of placement of each board!
While I can imagine this all sounds a lot of work (and I suppose it is), in the long run you are creating a system that can never be outgrown, only added to!
Look at the modules I listed, there's really not that much to it in a development sense. All audio connection boards could be designed without any pain whatsoever. Same with the power option boards. The most complex would be the differences between the storage boards, but even that stuff is going to be a piece of cake to Johannes when you consider the complexity of Axoloti core. So there's some work involved but I doubt it's anywhere near as much as it sounds and the difference it would make to usability, desireability, to commercial developers, and to Johannes profits would be quite noticable I think.
Think about, it's pretty crazy not to have it designed that way because that's kinda the whole point of Axoloti, to be able to do things how you want to do them. The only area it fails in that respect, is that it's pre-populated, and being pre-populated is a restriction in a sense compared to the Patcher side of things.
The alternative is what we have now, an alternative where Johannes is losing profit to eBay and where commercial developers are going to turn their noses up at the very thought of having to de-populate hundreds or potentially thousands of Axoloti Core boards.
There is no such barrier with un-populated design.