Subject: Re: [Freesw] Re: FreeDevelopers
From: "Karsten M. Self" <kmself@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2001 22:53:59 -0800
Sat, 31 Mar 2001 22:53:59 -0800
on Sat, Mar 31, 2001 at 09:20:01AM +0530, Radi (radi@freedevelopers.net) wrote:
> On 30 Mar 2001, Seth Gordon wrote:
> 
> : Let's say you actually have a piece of software that you're making
> : available through this system, and then Red Hat downloads a copy of
> : it, puts *their* warranty and brand on it, and competes with you for
> : the same high-end customers.  How will you convince potential
> : customers to pay you and not Red Hat?
> 
> There are successful GPL stuff which are vulnerable to the situation as
> given above:
> 
> 1. GNOME of Ximian (formerly Helix). This is GPL'd.  RedHat or anyone
> can do anything as you say.
> 
> 2. Nautilus of Eazel is exactly like item No. 1.

Eazel is hardly the paragon of a successful business model.  Will it
survive?  Maybe, but the deck's somewhat stacked right now.  Pity, it's
a pretty product.

IMO (based on conjecture and experience) I'm not convinced that a
"build-it-all-in-house" software development model is a good fit for the
free software process.  While certain core direction may be so driven,
this is probably going to be a largely low-margin business.  Ultimately
you're selling services.  The revealed truth is that services don't
scale.  Unless:

  - Services are backed by other products, notably software and/or
    hardware.  This is the model used by Sun, Oracle, SAS, and noteably,
    IBM.

  - Services are driven by a very well defined process.  This is the
    model used by several of the management consulting firms, notably
    Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting).  Sort of like McDonalds --
    consistent, if non-stellar, results.

> My question is how these two companies survive? How they signed huge
> contracts with HP (Ximian); Sun and Dell (Eazel)? Why didn't the client
> companies sign with RedHat or similar ones who can also offer what
> Ximian or Eazel do?

Presumably, ongoing support and/or development contracts.  Unfortunatly,
the ultimate product is a freebie for the sponsoring companies (Sun, HP,
IBM) as a component of their branded Unix systems.  There's a certain
value to such contracts, however they have to exist, and cover costs.
In the current climate, it's a risky proposition.

-- 
Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>    http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?       There is no K5 cabal
  http://gestalt-system.sourceforge.net/         http://www.kuro5hin.org


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