Subject: Re: dual-branding (was: Re: Paper on dual licensing)
From: David Kaufman <david@gigawatt.com>
Date: Wed, 04 Dec 2002 20:24:41 -0500

"Adam Turoff" <ziggy@panix.com> wrote:
>
> On Wed, Dec 04, 2002 at 02:59:52PM -0500, David Kaufman wrote:
> > while coincidentally open-source, so that the laziest customers, with
> > deep pockets and a desire to fulfill their instant gratification needs,
> > can buy, plug and play, while those customers digging a little deeper
> > can still find the value added by the commercial version...
>
> Why is it we're still perpetuating the same five-year-old memes as
> if they're the gospel?

oh, i didn't realize this was "a five-year-old meme" (btw, what's a "meme"
again?)  i've only been reading the list for like five *months*... hence my
belief that i coined a phrase --drat--- i guess the phrase "dual-branding"
is copylefted already, or free-trademarked, or somesuch?

> ... esr had a handful of speculative business
> models for open source development that remain untried, unproven
> or unsupported.

again, my apologies for being a greenhorn, but, who or what is "esr"?  if
you could provide a link to more info, i'd certainly like to read up on
these untried free software business models.

> ... I don't buy that an FSB predicated on the customer
> gullibility and customer laziness is a valid (or viable) business model.
>
> ... Mikko has found a novel
> trend: dual-licensing of open source software.  Each of the businesses
> profiled in this report are profitable, and have been for a number
> of years.  ... [none of whom] use the "gullible customer" model.

well, i didn't mean to imply that SourceFire's whole business was dependent
on customer gullability, but i do believe that there's an aspect of "tell
them only what we want them to know" to *any* business's marketing message,
and that's not a bad lesson for FSB's to take to heart.

many open source developers seem to get offended that "the rest of the
world" cannot be bothered to care about the difference between free-libre,
free-beer, free-ware and free-for-the-first-thirty-days, when the fact that
non-alpha-geeks don't "get it" is actually a marketing *opprtunity* that
SourceFire reflects on their most important marketing vehicle, the website,
by wisely ignoring the entire issue.  they realize, i'm pretty sure, that
many members of their target market (I.T professionals who've cut their
teeth on Microsoft, Sun and other proprietary technologies) might be scared
off or confused by the FUD, rumors and half-truths that their closed-source
vendors like to spread.  perhaps nobody ever gets fired for buying IBM, but
even if you understand the value proposition of open source software, what
guarantees does the average MIS employee have that their boss, or her boss,
or the accounting department, or the legal department won't blow their top
when they learn that some viral license has been brought into the company
and may be eating up their prorpietary systems, even as we speak?  who
wants to be the first in their little political arena to be blamed by
ignorant colleagues when something goes wrong, for "buying that freeware,
in the first place"?  there is a lot of bias to overcome in the corporate
world, and few want to be perceived as betting the farm on software that
was not built by a big giant commercial software vendor with more money
than the GNP of a third world country.

so SourceFire competes with the closed source proprietary software giants
by appearing, to the causual observer, to be indistinguishable from one.

as FSB's we must face that if we want to sell to that very large part of the
market *not* made up entirely of alpha-geeks, we have to position ourselves
as the equal, or at least indistinguishable, marketing-wise, from a
traditional software vendor, at least in marketing savvy, and in price.
those are the only aspects of the product that the customer (and her boss)
may really have time to look at when making purchasing decisions, and many
customers who are not really all that gullible at all, are still under
pressure, in a hurry, or yes, simply too lazy to read the entire license agr
eement and decide if it's "free enough".

marketing and sales professionals know that making buying extremely
convenient, even effortless, increases sales.  when people are giving you
their money they expect you to cater to them and make evaluating, buying,
downloading and installing your product as painless as possible.  after all,
expensive free software doesn't have to be hard to use, does it?

so i was just trying to stimulate some discussion on this list about
Snort/SourceFire because i'd like to hear what some of you on this list
think about it.  i don't think SourceFire (or any other dual-licensing
company, not promoting the no-cost alternative to their product) is any more
"predicated" on customer gullibuility than Poland Spring is, by not
mentioning in it's marketing message that water also flows freely from from
your kitchen faucet, though.

the point i had meant to make was that SourceFire seems to have gotten their
marketing message *right*, while MySQL and others more "openly" dual
licensing may be missing an opportunity to reach a large user base of *end
users* by not creating a different brand for them.  MySQL certainly *has*
already won the hearts and minds of a large base of alpha geeks.  maybe for
MySQL, it's more of a question of the diffence between SourceFire's customer
demographic and MySQL's, or maybe i'm missing some other point here, because
i'm relatively new to the free software world, and i've focused pretty
narrowly only on only a couple of companies whose products i'm familiar
with.  but it seems to me that MySQL could sell, rather than give away, a
lot of software if they created a brand for end-user consumers (for a
perverse example) called "DataFire" :-)  from www.DataFire.com, added some
significant beginner-level, end-user-fiendly convenience value to it, and
promoted it as a powerful and easy-to-use alternative to say, MS Access,
removing the obstacles and barriers that consumer-level users experience
with the product, with no mention of the GPL anywhere on the site, except
maybe buried deep in the FAQ: "DataFire is powered by the most truly
excellent open source MySQL database engine!"

anyway, perhaps the rumors are true and i am insane, and should just go back
to lurking, learning and listening for a while, and reserve my next diatribe
for a time when i know a bit more whereof i speak :-)

-dave