It happened few days back when I explained about Open source technology in a Food Service forum. I was telling about my Open source Point of Sale for Restaurants named Floreant POS ( http://freepos.us) and the way vendor of close source products reacted was very interesting. Here I am sharing the conversation between Robert Lehman, owner of a POS software company and me.
Why promote Open Source? Do you programmers not want to be paid for your work? What do you only want part-time editors making changes as their hobby? It just doesn't make sense to me. Please
explain if I've got it wrong, but that won't change my opinion.
Dear Robert, Open source is an established business model. Instead of selling
software license, open source model sells service (support,
customization, modification of reports etc). There are many successful
projects who left their source open and still making enough money to
Traditional software business rely on hiding source code and they may
get surprised how a software company can survive giving away their hard
Let me give answer your question with a layman's example. Think
-Source code is like Recipe for Cooking.
-Compiling can be compared to Cooking and
-Binary Executable are final cooked food. Now Closed source (Traditional) companies are those restaurants who hide
their recipe. They hide recipe because no other can produce same taste,
so they would make more profit and lock their guests. This model works
when cooks get sure their recipes are unique.
But we know there are already lots of Recipe books in the market and one
can cook delicious foods without special recipe. Most of the
restaurants in the world in fact runs with common recipes and people
eats there even though they could cook same thing at home. Interestingly all those generic recipe restaurants make business. How
can they survive? Reason is market is so big that one player cannot
capture the whole. Guests can find food in his area and whoever gives
better service makes better profit.
I told before that Close source works best when you have a special
formula which is hard to repeat by anybody(like Coca cola). In software highly researched mathematical program may be similar candidate, But
Restaurant business, Accounting App or ERP have almost similar business
process for many years. Literally there are nothing new and most of the
software we program reinvents the same wheel. In contrast to Coke, It
could be Orange juice where many companies can produce same orange juice
and make business. In Assembly or machine language days all software companies were locking
business like Coke companies! There was a day when writing code
required huge time and compilers were expensive. Now paradigm has
changed. There are IDE, Wizard and tons of freely available snippets,
that reduced cost of software. So its proven that hiding source code now
give little advantage. In contrast if a programmer give away the source
code in public domain he may invite our competitors to work on same
code but market will expand dramatically. Such way it benefits a big community.
Not sure if you could get some idea from that. BTW there are tons of articles in internet and live example of projects like Apache, MySQL who are big companies based on open source technology. You may be using Firefox - its open source too.