Is it really open....
Its dumb comparing hardware with software. Hardware development is very difficult to do at home. You need a whole host of speciliased software packages for design and simulation. Then there is an appreciable cost to making prototypes. A substential amount of the Open Source contributions are from individuals people in their own time at home. Commercial companies are generally less likely to contribute with a few notable exceptions (MySQL, Qt, Eclipse, etc.)
So why would a commercial company hardware company provide open source designs with the exception of the component manufacturers.
For example, Intel, Nvidia, Texas Instruments, Motorolla create reference designs which other vendors are allowed to use and modified. In return of course those companies sell more of their precious chips.
This of course doesnt help with interconnect but to some extent, the industry has been getting at this anyhow out of pure necessity.
For instance, we have PCI(x &e) for peripheral board connectivity, we have memory chip standards, we have motherboard form factor standards (ATX), mass storage device connectivty (SATA, SCSI), power supply connectors etc.
Its not perfect but its driven by an industry where no-one builds everything and everyone is reliant on standards. I suggest that the PC is LEGO. Heck, the new Apples conform to the same LEGO standards!
Now what Bug Labs is doing is cool. As they are talking about gadgets. But really all they are saying is buy our hardware , each of the bits you want, and you can write your own software to make a gadget.
I cant see where they released the hardware specs so it can be manufactured by other people. So it isnt "open hardware" at all. Its hardware where you can access all the bits of it in the software.
And even if they did provide the hardware specs to make it trully open, the barrier to entry to create a compatible device is probably great and certainly not hobiest material. So I think they are jumping on the "Open" bandwagon again.
Still I wish them well as it does look fun . Here is the link: http://www.buglabs.net