Subject: Re: [coallesced replies] Re: how to create 21,780 new free software jobs (2,530 in R&D)
From: Rob Helmer <>
Date: Sat, 9 Nov 2002 15:36:08 -0800

On Sat, Nov 09, 2002 at 03:27:44PM -0800, Nick Jennings wrote:
> On Sat, Nov 09, 2002 at 03:07:23PM -0800, Rob Helmer wrote:
> > 
> > It would be useful for branding purposes, although I think it would
> > be better as a service provided to or run on top of ISPs as more
> > of a package, e.g. here's where you can order these desktops, here's
> > the server you'll need to mirror to get started hosting, 
> > here are our numbers if you need help supporting this.
> > 
> > The "certified" version of the desktop O/S would be the one
> > from this company, it is built from free software and it
> > freely redistributed, but comes with development and technical
> > support ( so the company can act as a second tier to the
> > service provider's support, if any. It might be cheaper
> > for the SP to just forward support requests directly ).
> > 
> [snip]
> > 
> > Just a note - the "one number to call" would be the user's service
> > provider, who may end up being supported by buying software/hardware
> > support from a company who makes it their job to make the "certified"
> > version of the client OS, who does QA on all free software packages
> > used, who designs and manufactures the desktop units and sets up
> > the servers.
> I think there is a fundamental difference in our ideas. 
> To try to sum up what you've described. You think that a better
> model is to try to offload as much of the support & service to the ISP,
> selling them on "taking ownership" of the idea, while we focus on providing
> the hardware and OS for them to use.
> Although I do think that would make things easier for us, I think there's
> a very slim chance we are going to be able to get an ISP to "own" this
> and dedicate *any* support staff to this at all, before it proves itself as a
> profitable venture. 
> I think what Larry described, which I agree with, is that we really need
> to carry this idea on our backs as much as possible to convince these ISPs
> to even give us a shot.
> *We* are the support staff - The users still get one number (probably the
> ISPs main number) if they are calling about the desktop service, the call
> gets forwarded to us right away (we would probably need to provide our own
> office to work out of as well). We "pretend" to be ISP ABC's support staff
> for the desktop service, but really we are not on salary from them, and 
> effectively, in business for ourselves.

Actually, I said it could happen either way. In fact, in something
of mine you quoted, I said :

> > service provider's support, if any. It might be cheaper
> > for the SP to just forward support requests directly ).

I also am not talking about ISPs, but smaller service providers, someone
who is just renting rack space at an ISP most likely ( I define
ISP as someone who provides internet access like dialup/dsl/satellite/
cable modem/etc ).

> All the ISP would be is a "proxy" front-end to make it appear that everything
> is centralized and under one identity. They would also be providing us with
> rack space and bandwidth for the servers we would need to setup. User lists
> etc.

Yes, this is the only realistic way to do it, especially
at first.

My point is that if someone wanted to "go it alone", they could, but
they probably won't until there's some established business processes
for them to clone ( even then, it's probably cheaper not to have
their own techs ).

However, down the road, big established service providers ( e.g.
Earthlink, maybe not even that big ) can afford to have dedicated
support staff, and if this is a proven business model they may
want to take it upon themselves.

> - Nick Jennings