Subject: Re: My ears are red (was Re: the walls have ears)
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Thu, 03 Jun 1999 07:16:34 +0000

Paul Rohr wrote:
> At 01:29 AM 6/2/99 -0400, Brian Bartholomew wrote:
> >> I participated in a thread on a different list where one of the
> >> participants put together, in all seriousness, the outline of a
> >> business plan for such (actually, the wordprocessor portion).  It
> >> was pretty plausible[1] but IMHO doomed to failure.  Hasn't been
> >> tested yet, so I don't know.
> >
> > is building this word processor, and that's where I
> >stole the technical ideas from.  Their business model is different
> >from the one I proposed.  Instead of selling run-time licenses, they
> >are giving away the razor and selling the blades, er, GPLing the
> >application, shipping gratis, and selling support.  I conclude the
> >product is designed to be bad enough to require support.
> Wow!  What a welcome to the list:
>   - "doomed to failure" AND
>   - "designed to be bad".
> Eric and I found out about this list about a week ago, and have been waiting
> for a lull to introduce ourselves.  Is this our cue?  :-)

Welcome aboard, Paul.  I met a few of you (most memorably Eric) at
LinuxWorld Expo and the O'Reilly Open Source Developer's Day last fall
-- great shirts <g>.

I've considered the office suite one of the last untramelled grounds of
OSS, and would be inclined to say you're still facing an uphill battle. 
(The ultimate untrammeled ground, FWIW, is a docketing app --
essentially, niche product with a small, nontechnical user base, and a
large number of tediously niggling details to get right.)  I'm not quite
as downbeat as Brian however.

Thinking about your business plan, another thought would be to align
yourself with a group or groups for whom an office suite would be icing,
gloss, or an avenue for further business opportunities of their own. 
These might include HW vendors (Compaq, Dell, Gateway, VA Research,
Penguin Computing), service companies (IBM, Oracle, SAS, EDS), or user
groups (say, a business alliance).  The arrangement could involve a bit
of enlightened self interest on the part of the sponsor, or might be
based on more tightly coupled arrangements ($XXX,XXX,XXX for X,XXX
delivered service contracts, say).

Yet another tie could be marketing proprietary tie-ins to the base
product -- say in the same way that Avery lables essentially has a
franchise with some MS Office products.  I'd have to think about where
this is going, but essentially you'd be allowing modular extensions to
the base app, and managing to take a cut of what's received for these
extensions (licensing arrangement?) or securing funding for providing
the base.  Talk to your money men about it.

Karsten M. Self (

    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    Welchen Teil von "Gestalt" verstehen Sie nicht?


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