Subject: Good Free Software --> More Support Business
From: (Adam J. Richter)
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 94 18:08 EDT

	Claiming that buggy software is necessary for profitable tech
support is the same kind of reasoning that leads people to believe that
you can never increase profits by cutting prices and can never raise
government revenue by cutting taxes.  All of these beliefs are
fallacious because they assume that buyers will not change their
behavior in response to the choices they are offered.

	The better the software, the more people who will use it, and
and the more uses people will want to adapt it to.

	For example, consider ease of use.  As software becomes easier
to use, new populations of less technically elite users will adopt it.
Think of the user community as a pyramid with the a small number
of extremely knowledgeable users at the top and levels of progressively
larger groups of less knowledgeable users as you descend.  The group
most interested in tutorial technical support is the group that is
at the minimum level of sophistication needed to use a particular
piece of software.  As that level of sophistication drops, the number
of users who are potential customers for this sort of service
should increase.  Here is a diagram:


 		|<- size of market->|
		|		    |
                |       gurus       |
                |      /_____\      |
                |    / hackers \    |
                |  /_____________\  |
                |/ technical users \| ________ Minimum user sophistication
	     /   less technical users  \
	 /       even less technical       \
     / 		     etc., etc.                \

	Don't believe me?  Look at how many classes there are on
how to use a Macintoshes and Mac software.

	Of course, if your user base were ever to grow to something
close to the planet's population, you might run out of people to
sell tutorial tech support to, but so would a proprietary software
company run out of customers.

	Improving software can expand the market for services
to more sophisticated users, too.  The more the software can do, the
more people who already use the software will try to adapt it to new
uses and may find it worthwhile to seek help in these endevours.
Although personal tech support is just a side business at Yggdrasil
right now, a lot of that business comes from people doing things
like getting Linux to cut a CD, porting software to Linux, or working
on the SVR4 emulator.  I think that as Linux becomes even more
powerful and even more widely used, the market for technical support
services will only grow.  Although I've been unable to find the
quotation tonight, I think it was Einstein who said "As the disc of
light expands, so does the circumference of darkness."  If the
tech support market is that circumference, then way to increase the
market is it expand the circle of light.

Adam J. Richter
Yggdrasil Computing, Inc.