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Re: [Pan-users] Re: OT: freedomware vs... Was: Building Pan on Windows?

From: Leslie Newell
Subject: Re: [Pan-users] Re: OT: freedomware vs... Was: Building Pan on Windows?
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2010 14:46:03 +0000
User-agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20090812)

Leslie asked for a business model where he can make a living while still releasing code as open source. Red Hat do it. Canonical does it. Sun does it, although who knows what will happen now that they've been bought out by Oracle. Even ID Software does it (although they release their games as closed source first, and then a year or three later re-release under an open source library).

I asked for a business model that works with a niche product. RH, Google, Canonical et al rely on selling services such as consulting or advertising. They rely on huge numbers of users so the small percentage who pay are still enough to make a profit. I don't have the huge user base and even as an open source free as in beer package I still would not have a vast number of users.

One model is, "give the software away, sell the consulting services".

This only works with large numbers of users.

Another is "give the anti-virus software away, sell subscriptions to the virus updates". A third could be, "give the game engine away, sell the game data files".

Not really practical in my case as the software simply processes drawings supplied by the end user.

Or "give away the standard version, sell the advanced version".

I have two objections to this. One I hate 'crippleware' and two as a large percentage of my user base are hobbyists, a lot of them would happily put up with the crippled version.

And another could be, "don't give the software away at all, but still release it as open source". Open source means free as in liberty, not necessarily free as in beer: just because you make the source code available doesn't mean you can't sell the program,

The problem comes when some third party then releases their own build for free. Many users would then, understandably, use the free version but I would still end up with the support. I have seen this happen.

and just because you keep the source code secret doesn't mean people can't copy it or reverse engineer it.

Too true.

I'm happy for Leslie that he can make a living from selling software. That puts him in a crowd of about 0.01% of independent software developers. I have no idea what business models will work for him and his niche crowd, but he shouldn't *assume* that open sourcing the software *necessarily* means he can't make a living from it.

I have looked into it and unfortunately I can't see a business model that will work for me with my product.


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