Subject: Re: Order entry application user group
From: Brian Bartholomew <bb@wv.com>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 18:40:17 -0500

Tim writes:
> If I thought it likely that I'd be doing work for the benefit of
> free-riding direct competitors, it might give me pause.  But in
> fact, there are fairly high barriers to entry to implementing one of
> these systems, such that someone will keep an inferior system for a
> long time just because of the conversion costs.

Are these barriers technically unavoidable, or do they come from the
vendor being mediocre or deliberately obtuse?  If your new vendor did
something outstandingly brilliant with the packaging or ease of use,
could you become hesitant about sharing?  Could you structure the
redistribution terms such that the new vendor can make the best
product possible, and any barriers you need are provided solely by the
terms?  If the direct competitors must pay to play in the pool, they
are no longer free riders.  And the bigger customer base is likely to
give you more money to evolve the software faster.  Order entry
software no longer becomes a basis of competition, but you aren't
actively penalized for sharing it, either.  Then my question becomes,
'how do you prevent the order entry software coop from degenerating
into a for-profit self-justifying bureaucracy'?  But I suppose by this
point civilization has moved forward one notch.  Ka-thunk!


A member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF) http://lpf.ai.mit.edu
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Brian Bartholomew - bb@wv.com - www.wv.com - Working Version, Cambridge, MA