Friday, August 21, 2009

open source vs. commercial software

not an open source vs. commercial software blog again, please!! - oh yes, again, sorry!!!

the open source software community is growing bigger and bigger. now, for almost every commercial software product there is a open source pendant (well, thats at least true for home users). you get open source operating systems, office packages, development tools,... but is open source software actually good or bad? i would say its good for most people, as all home users get affordable (free) high quality software. its not bad for the it industry as well as open source software is a hoard of innovation and invention.

but, and of course there is a but, it changes how people think about software. open source software creates the impression that all software is for free and that all software should be for free.

software enterpreneurs always had the problem of pirate copies, and it definetley is a problem of explaining the system of software licensing to standard computer users. many think, that, when they buy a software product, they actually buy the product itself, but that is not quite true of course, because they only buy the right to use the software (often only over a limited period or without updates).

so with the rise of open source software the very lucrative business with software licenses will come to an end sooner or later, as people just don't want to buy a license for the product, a support license,...

you might think, "who cares??, its primarily a problem for microsoft". that is true, of course, but only partly. its a much bigger thread to small software enterpreneurs and small start-ups who have a really cool application and wants to sell it for maybe 50$ - 150$. they are the real losers of the rise of open source software. this software are mostly specialised tools and are aimed to home users primarily. but as mentioned above, home users don't want to buy software, they want to have it for free.

so are those small business all going bankrupt? - the answer is maybe they are, but with the rise of open source software, there also appeared a different light for small software businesses. the light was the iphone. yes, the iphone, no typing mistake. what the hell has the iphone to do with open source software as the iphone is definetly not open source?

the answer is apples appstore. i think this is a revolutionary development. it offers everybody, capable of programming, a global sales platform. yes, yes the internet might also be a global sales platform but you have to get interent users on your website, unlike the appstore where you search for products or only keywords. the appstore also created a market place for small, cheap and specialised tools.

if you are offering a software product on your homepage for about 50$ for an unlimited license you may be happy when you sell a dozen per month. but in the appstore, you have a lot more audience so you may create for your software product a mobile version and you offer it for about 5$ and you may sell it hundreds of times per month.

but apples appstore was only the beginning, nokia started ovi, rim started the blackberry appstore, windows started the windows market place, google started its android store and sun, announced a few month ago the java appstore. these are good news for all software developers as you have with these appstores, a global sales platform available - at very low cost.

back to open source software for a moment, because there is still a lot of money you can make with it, especially, when you offer it for enterprises. you may not charge them any license fees, but what you can offer is, implementation/installation, support/maintenance, customisation and tools or training. this is no revolutionary thought and sooner or later, i believe, that the licensing business will die, including licenses for enterprise software such as offered by sap, oracle and others.

so when one door closes (commercial software), another one opens (commercial software offered in appstores).

i am looking forward to developing software for the appstores and i am looking forward to participating in open source software. the it industry is heading towards a bright future full of innovation and invention

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