Subject: Re: commercial / proprietary
From: (David N. Welton)
Date: 18 Feb 2005 10:01:15 +0100

Brian Behlendorf <> writes:

> On Thu, 17 Feb 2005, David N. Welton wrote:

> > "Make as much money as possible."  In other words, not doing it
> > out of the good of their hearts, or to thumb their nose at some
> > competitor, but because they think it's the best way to make the
> > most money.

> Which companies do you think are involved in Open Source primarily
> out of the "good of their hearts"?  Let me know, so I can short
> their stock.

The original question was 'products', not 'companies'.  I'm
particularly interested in cases where someone said "we're going to
build and launch this as open source".  Or is the Zope story more
common?  Initially aim at doing proprietary software, and change
strategy if that's not going anywhere - you can't get in the market
for instance.

As far as companies trying to look good with, in some cases, no direct
financial reward, one need look no further than "corporate social
responsibility" in its various forms.  It happens with open source
too, I'm sure, although certainly not as a "primary" motivation.

> I'm also struggling to think of examples where "thumb their nose"
> didn't have a "make money" motive behind it.

The use of "open source as a sapper mine" is interesting, but it's not
really feasible for a lot of small to mid size companies, who need to
concentrate their resources on their own products rather than having a
division working to weaken the competition indirectly (i.e. not in the
field where they compete directly).  In other words, if you hived off
OpenOffice from Sun, I don't suppose it would make money as things
currently stand.

> Even something as big-hearted as IBM's 500-patent grant had some
> very shrewd business reasoning behind it.

I think IBM has played the open source game masterfully, but my
interest in this particular thread lies with open source products
created to directly make money for a company.  Perhaps that's just
"looking at things wrong"...

David N. Welton

Apache, Linux, Tcl Consulting