Commercial & Open Source Still Not Antonyms

By: Roberto Galoppini | 2008-01-08

Over the last few days I have just been reading my news alerts on commercial open source and I found out that someone still thinks it sounds like a contradiction in terms, others question about how open commercial open source is, while there are others who argue that OSS vendors have to sell products, not subscriptions.

Taking the Web into our own hands, one computer at a time

While it is still unclear if and at which extent a software developers can change the world, the "blue ocean" of Open Source innovations got larger and larger in 2007, proving open source to be a formidable tool to put in place viable business strategies. Customer innovation still has a very important role, as it still matters cooperation and collaboration among open source firms, may also be in the form of vendors' consolidation.

Is Bill Hilf right saying that with proprietary software you buy a guarantee, and you can eventually sue someone if something goes wrong? CIOs working within small to medium enterprises are probably more interested in software that works than in buying this "ecosystem of accountability". Need to know more about what open source can do for you? Read the Open Source Guide for SMEs.

What is an open source firm is still an open issue apparently: Jeff Gould is among them who do not consider the Split OSS/commercial approach open enough. I am looking forward to joining Andrew Aitken at the Open Source Think Tank 2008 on February 7-9 in Napa Valley, and sharing with him and others some opinions also on the "false positive" phenomenon.

Savio Rodrigues got more critical on some open source business approaches, writing:

The problem is you've given the user something of great value for free (i.e. the product), and now you're asking him to pay for something of much less value (i.e. the support). [..]

OSS businesses of the future will have to offer products to paying customers that are different than what is available for free. Emphasis on products.

VCs do like millions of downloads, but we all know that one customer every thousand users might be a viable strategy for MySql and very few others. Despite that it is questionable if support has or doesn't have less value than the product itself, we know it is true that selling the right to use assets is more profitable than selling ownership of assets. In this respect Savio, emphasizing the importance of the product, is definitely raising an interesting issue. Soon more on these subjects.

I wish you all a great year, and invite you to take a moment to watch this Blue Man Group video: our planet is the only one we can live on,  take good care of it, either if you love or hate open source.
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About the Author: In 2001 started up a small firm specialized in infrastructural solutions based on Open Source software. In 2004 launched the first Italian consortium of Open Source SMEs, becoming its president. Collaborates to academy research on Open Source organizational models and on Open Source meta-districts, keeps rubrics and writes articles on ICT magazines.