Subject: Re: Opportunity lost? Challenge declined!? (CLARIFICATION)
From: Seth Gordon <sethg@ropine.com>
Date: 11 May 2001 14:45:45 -0000

    "Seth Gordon" <sethg@ropine.com> wrote:
	Your offer to let me view the source doesn't really give me such
	assurance, since (a) I may not have the time to audit a product's
	source code before deciding whether or not to buy it;

    Adam Theo:
    could you explain this point? i'm sorry, i don't really understand
    it. what do you mean by audit?

"Audit" is a fancy word meaning "read with the goal of confirming that
the program works as advertised".  For a program aimed at a mass
market, I don't see how making source available will provide you with
much of a competitive advantage.  Either the program works or it
doesn't.  If it works, the customer doesn't care about having the
source code.  If it doesn't work, the customer would rather pester
tech support, or switch to a competitor, than look at the source code.

For a program aimed at a specialty market, it's a whole different
business.  For example, my last employer sold a program called
Arbor/BP, a billing program for telecom companies, with a price tag in
the seven or eight figures (depending on how big your company was, how
powerful your computers were, who else was bidding for the same
contract, and so on).  For a program like that, a customer or
"strategic partner" could probably negotiate a deal for access to part
of the source code -- at the very least, a smart customer would demand
to have the source code in escrow as insurance against the vendor
going out of business.  But in that market, *every*thing from the
sticker price to the color of the splash screen is negotiable, so it's
no big surprise that access to source would be negotiable too.

I strongly, strongly recommend that you read Eric S. Raymond's "The
Magic Cauldron" (http://tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/magic-cauldron/).  He
has some very good insights into how one can make money off of
open-source software, when a software author would be better off
releasing code as open source, and when closed source would be a
better business decision.

-- 
"Rav would never cross a bridge when an idolator was on it; he said, 'Maybe he
will be judged and I will be taken with him.'  Shmuel would only cross a
bridge when an idolator was on it; he said, 'Satan cannot rule two nations [at
once].'  Rabbi Yannai would examine [the bridge] and cross."  --Shabbat 32a
== Seth Gordon == sethg@ropine.com == http://ropine.com/ == std. disclaimer ==