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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Open Source - Economic Or Community Value

I am not here to discuss about the costs of adapting opensource, how it takes more efforts to deploy and maintain and how this may turn the professed economic advantage upside down. Opensource is not a movement – its not an ideology, it has nothing to do with morality or ethics, its plain economics – so writes, John Mark Walker. In his lovely article, he essentially argues that open source would have happened irrespective of Linus or FSF as it's related to the natural order of things: commoditization. The Internet only exacerbates this trend. In his own words, the commoditization of software and a gradual, long-term reduction in price have plays far more important roles in the proliferation of the open source. Business strategy designed to leverage open source should focus more on economies of scale (in terms of user and developer bases) and less on pleasing a mythical, monolithic community. Combining lower cost of production with the additional freedom and flexibility endemic to open source deployments, one sees two dynamics driving both adoption and production. The push of software commoditization and the pull of customer demands have created a perfect storm for open source software. It then means that the ecosystem to continually improve sets in - The evolving collective knowledge base carries another consequence: speed of innovation. Because of the speed with which users, developers, and companies can post documentation, patches, or new software projects, the product life cycle has shortened considerably. Software vendors must work harder than ever to stay ahead of the floating software boats. This constant drive for innovation means that products released just yesterday lose value more quickly than before, due to future products already filling the software pipeline. With prices approaching zero, software developers have two choices when trying to win over users:
(1) add features not available elsewhere, and
(2) release the source code

I sort of tend to agree with the core of his arguments - A new outlook towards opensource would help realize significant implications for businesses planning to leverage it. An economic argument about opensource fills in with a different nature and shape.The commoditization of software and a gradual, long-term reduction in price have played far more important roles than previously recognized. The internet’s disruptive trend is creating a facilitating role in the evolution, advancements & adaptation of opensource.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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