A sense of realism seems to be settling down in the open source arena, as some of the gold diggers start to realise that the two words by themselves aren't magical. Nor will they "just" deliver sustainable businesses.
"Open source as a business model, in isolation, is pretty much unsustainable," Larry McVoy told Forbes.com. McVoy has been working with Likux since 1992 and currently is chief executive officer for BitMover, a developer of a software development tool for Linux called BitKeeper.
Although the application isn't open source, the company used to give its product away for free. But not for much longer: as of this June developers are charged a licence fee.
"We believe if we open sourced our product, we would be out of business in six months," McVoy told Forbes. "The bottom line is you have to build a financially sound company with a well-trained staff. And those staffers like their salaries. If everything is free, how can I make enough money to keep building that product for you and supporting you?"
Unfortunately for McVoy, his company's failure to make money from his product might say more about his business skills than it does about open source.
The secret behind creating a successful open source company isn't that much different from the secret behind creating an op open source company in general: offer better functionalities than the competition, good support, and in the case of open source: gather a community that is willing to help out with development.
Red Hat, Novell and MySQL will tell you that it isn't impossible.
McVoy seems to be on the right path to finding the answer however, he just needs a little more help. "Open source software is like handing you a doctor's bag and the architectural plans for a hospital and saying, 'Hey dude, if you have a heart attack, here are all the tools you need--and it's free' I'd rather pay someone to take care of me."
Just replace open source with "failed software."
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