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Friday, September 02, 2005

Open Source : Losing Its Character

We have been questioning the busines model behind open source. We also covered later open source - reality check wherein we covered, "For business enterprises, lack of a definable business model to promote open source with revenue streams clearly identified will seal the debate squarely. With Wall Street sending a clear message to software companies that the measure of performance is profitability – the chances of sustained activity in support of open source providing consistent support and results over and over again looks highly improbable".

Bob McDowall writes, As Open Source has entered mainstream commerce, open source pioneers felt that the so-called spirit of community development had been eroded. As the tougher face of commerce sizes up the opportunities, the original orthodoxy of the movement, inevitably, comes under pressure, as vendors and their markets determine what is of value and what is not. Most major vendors have "an Open Source Strategy". The extent to which vendors extract, borrow and adapt varies. Software that has an Open Source origin becomes integrated with software from proprietary sources and vendors release the software without giving up all their economic rights and the benefits derived from that integration. Open source pioneers now see a role for them in the mainstream model. They can continue to develop software using the Open Source model, in the areas where it is likely that major vendors will adapt and borrow, but still retain their intellectual orthodoxy by maintaining their role at the beginning of the development trail. Inevitably, the pioneer spirit is eroded as commercial organisations pick, choose and adapt Open Source software to meet their own strategy. Open Source will lose its original ethos. Ultimately, Open Source software which does not make commercial sense, or at least indirectly contribute towards the commercial strategies of the software vendors and their corporate markets, is doomed to a dead end. As I wrote earlier, for some the monopolistic domination of few commercial vendors may make the open source movement look desirable, fact remains that in the modern world, efficient use of capital,creativity and innovation are the key to sustained success – that is what commercial technology enterprises strive to accomplish.

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