Subject: Design patters in software business models (was Re: Nessus 3.0's failed community)
From: Don Marti <dmarti@zgp.org>
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 10:41:27 -0800

Following up on my own post...is it worth talking
about software business models in terms of design
patterns, and look at the common elements of business
model designs across the arbitrary boundaries of
legal instruments, instead of just "these business
models are for open source, these aren't?"

For example, many companies are using what you might
call a "Cover Crop" pattern.  (Instead of borrowing
military terms for marketing all the time, let's use
one from agriculture.)

http://www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/newsltr/v7n3/sa-8.htm 

You plant a cover crop not to harvest and eat it,
but to add nitrogen and organic matter to the soil,
encourage a population of beneficial insects, and
to choke out weeds that would otherwise grow up to
compete with your regular crop.

Some examples of the cover crop pattern are:

* MSFT Visual Studio 60-day license in C# books
(beneficial insects: the ones that can code in C#;
weeds choked out: the next Turbo Pascal

* MSIE included with pre-installed MSFT Windows
(nitrogen in the soil: MSIE-compatible web sites;
weeds choked out...well, IANAL)

* warez copies of Adobe Photoshop

* academic discount programs

* ubiquitous PHP and MySQL in every Linux
  distribution, and on every web hosting site

Cover crops tend to be very cheap and easy to plant,
compared to the main crop that you're protecting.
(And they're not just for established fields -- a
recommended part of clearing land is to plant a "green
manure" crop to be plowed under before planting the
real pasture or crop.)  The benefits of a cover crop
probably wouldn't be worth it if it cost much more.
So part of "Cover Crop" as a business model design
pattern would be that low cost distribution is more
important than high-information-feedback distribution.

-- 
Don Marti
http://zgp.org/~dmarti/
dmarti@zgp.org