Subject: Re: Open Source -> Closed Source
From: jean_camp <jean_camp@harvard.edu>
Date: Wed, 11 May 2005 09:48:10 -0500

Companies that are extremely successful in one area ("category 
killers") end up competing with themselves regardless. Having a 
traditional closed-course competing against an open source alternative 
when they both begin at the same point is an interesting experiment. 
Does SQL prove that both can thrive with the open version providing a 
check on the competitive extremes of the closed option?

Certainly in the case of illegal copying closed code companies use 
illegal copying for market penetration and then try to convert the 
users who can afford it into paying customers by selective application 
of diplomacy and legal force. This is different in that customers have 
a choice. But it looks like the same overall strategy - one that relies 
on the quality of the professionals (a carrot) as opposed to legal 
action ( a stick).

-Jean

On May 10, 2005, at 6:28 PM, Anderson, Kelly wrote:

> I am beginning to see some indication that some open source projects
> (such as JasperSoft mentioned here last week) are being relicensed as
> closed source after gaining a level of popularity through being open
> source. In other words, using open source as a startup marketing
> "gimick", then finally releasing the program through closed source once
> market acceptance is up to a certain level. This only works, of course,
> for smaller projects with a controllable number of contributors. I'm 
> not
> 100% sure of the history of MySQL, but it almost seems to have taken a
> similar route.
>
> Obviously, there is the opportunity for someone else in the open source
> "marketplace" to start a fork from where the open source project left
> off, but if you loose the principle architects and programmers to a
> proprietary "acquiring" company, then the future of that open fork 
> would
> be in some doubt, depending on the nature of the project.
>
> Also, if the proprietary company were to try and trademark the
> previously open source name of the project, that would bring up a whole
> set of interesting questions.
>
> If an open source project doesn't accept submissions of bug fixes and
> code, they maintain this option to relicense the code under different
> terms. If people have this in the back of their mind, it could slow 
> down
> the evolution of an open source project. Also, what constitutes a
> submission? Code only? A bug report? or would a new idea for how to
> improve a program also constitute a submission under the GPL? This 
> seems
> kind of fuzzy to me. Clearly, JasperSoft got suggestions from the
> public, who thought they were giving their ideas to an open source
> project. Are those people now (justifiably) angry that the program has
> been abandoned in open source, and is only a proprietary program from
> here on out?
>
> All in all, this is both a concerning and quite interesting trend, and
> will no doubt be quite controversial going forward. Will projects like
> JasperSoft loose more in the PR world of public opinion than they could
> have made by staying open source? or are these just some college
> students trying to feed their young families the best way they can?
>
> In the past, we've seen companies that started out as freeware, and 
> went
> to a paid up license system. CodeSmith is doing this now, and I hope
> they are successful since they have a very cool product. It seems that
> either Pkzip or Winzip also did this. Do you folks see the open
> source->proprietary jump in the same light as the freeware->payware 
> jump
> for these past freeware (free as in beer) projects?
>
> I'm interested in how you evaluate all of this, as a threat, as an
> opportunity, or just another twist in the constantly evolving saga of
> open source. "Tomorrow, on As the Code Turns..."
>
> -Kelly
>
>
>
>
>
>
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