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One example of this that comes to mind is the Xbox. When the Xbox was first released, while being essentially a computer, it was only meant for playing games and watching dvds. Later when modding became easy, and therefor widespread, people developed new applications that made the Xbox do things it wasn't supposed to do. One of these applications was XBMC, or Xbox Media Center, which from the beginning was a 'clone' of Windows Media Center. But today is the basis for startups like Boxee and Voddler, and is the (IMO) most competent htpc platform, as well as the most 'cutting edge' one. Redefining the way we think about media.

There's a similar story with the Linksys WRT54G routers. And while you might be able to jailbreak the iPad, it's just a lot less likely that a community will be able to form around 'alternative' usages.

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