Subject: Re: street performer protocol
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 09:55:29 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Brian" == Brian Bartholomew <> writes:

    Brian> Stephen writes:
    >> Proprietors with Brian Bartholomew's tastes can of course
    >> eschew the shrink-wrap market (or adopt the "3M strategy" with
    >> open source shrink-wrap products: milk it while it's new, then
    >> "abandon" it == support but don't waste good money by further
    >> developing it---I don't think he'd much approve of that
    >> strategy, either).

    Brian> Boy, I haven't been communicating well.  The 3M strategy is
    Brian> one I particularly like.

Really?  Have you thought about the implications?  It's hard to
improve on the Postit (interestingly enough, that's one the 3M did
_not_ "abandon").  But this is not true of software.

True, GNU ls may not have been actively developed recently (but what
about colorized ls's?---I hate 'em, probably because I grew up with
CP/M and DOS where the extension told you all you need to know, but I
use ls -p a lot, which is really the same thing).  But I think it is
hubris in the extreme to think that a commercial developer with a hot
product in a hot market can achieve that degree of perfection, then
stop on the last dime.

I note that recently dog_0.1-1.deb has appeared on my dselect screen;
evidently `cat' isn't good enough anymore.  If some customers really
need dog, but GNU has abandoned cat, where do they get it?  Of course
they can go to sourceXchange, but this is more chancy and definitely
more redundant effort than having the original developer maintain and
extend it.

Remember, for solely owned software the GNU GPL gives you the high
likelihood that competitors will have to give you any features they
develop, and unlike the original development of the software, if they
do a public release of source, they get no honeymoon: you can and will
release the improved version the same day, _because you already know
how to market it_; there's no "catch-up" phase because the main
product isn't new anymore.

I think that in this situation the GPL will chill commercial
development; only redistributors with paper-thin margins, specializing
in packaging, can win in that market.  How many supermarkets do you
know that do basic research?

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