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Ask Slashdot: Viable Open Source Models For Early Startups?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the what's-the-mojo-kenneth? dept.

Businesses 203

New submitter rchoetzlein writes "I am a software developer working independently for five years on various projects, and preparing to go public with my first product. Everyone is telling me I should make it open source. I would love to, but I just don't see how an early startup can afford to become profitable on service alone. My projects are no longer small-scale hobbies, they are large frameworks, and I need to make a living. Any ideas on business models that would allow me to open source while guaranteeing I can feed myself?"

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203 comments

This is how our start-up handles it (1, Troll)

ExpertCoder (2613175) | about 2 years ago | (#39614361)

A few years we were in the same position as you are. We wanted to open source some of our technology and software but were trying to figure out how to make it work. Eventually we decided to offer both proprietary version of our software, and open source one. They are fairly identical and we offer support services for both.

The trick is, to ensure that we would convert the open source users to paying ones, we made most of the software features to do the heavy work on our servers, and then would strip the code altogether from the open source version. If users wanted to use the program they would for all practicality need to buy an yearly support contract from us, which included access to the servers hosting the code. On top of that we introduced various bugs and weird failures to the open source version, which would mean that the open source users would call our premium priced support telephone number. We needed to fine tune this over the year a bit , as we didn't introduce enough bugs in the beginning. But later we would start getting lots of support calls for bugs and it made a good amount of money.

This also made quite many sales of the proprietary version, so in overall it worked quite well. You might want to try something similar.

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614401)

Not sure whether I'd classify this as interesting, funny or appalling.

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (4, Insightful)

tekiegreg (674773) | about 2 years ago | (#39614403)

Sorry I consider it unethical to deliberately introduce bugs to any software. Not that you need to provide any standard of QA for an open source product, but it's ethical to ensure that whatever you release conforms to a certain "level of fitness" in that it'll do what it is designed.

Furthermore bugs in general reduce my opinion of a product and the company around them, if I see such a shoddy open source product, what's the guarantee a commercial product we'll be any better?

(after writing all this I now sit and ponder if I were trolled...)

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614435)

No one gives a motherfuck what you think about anything. You're pissed because someone is making a profit while you eat shit sandwiches with your other open sores buddies. Go fuck yourself, fucktard. Fuck you in the ass!
 
I hope more open sores projects go this way. Turning that faggot shit into nothing more than a gateway to real code instead of the dick smoker version.

hear me roarz!11 (-1, Flamebait)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about 2 years ago | (#39614525)

No one gives a motherfuck what you think about anything. You're pissed because someone is making a profit while you eat shit sandwiches with your other open sores buddies. Go fuck yourself, fucktard. Fuck you in the ass! I hope more open sores projects go this way. Turning that faggot shit into nothing more than a gateway to real code instead of the dick smoker version.

http://meowcheese.com/files/lolpics/2011/01/i-iz-mighty-lion-hear-me-roar-meow-.jpg [meowcheese.com]

Re:hear me roarz!11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39615657)

Almost as clueless as the asshat who blamed this on Bill Gates.

HAND YHBT.

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614647)

Bill Gates! I'm surprised! Go wash your mouth out this minute (her really was that foul)!

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39615167)

Sorry I consider it unethical

Are you sure it's not "immoral" you're looking for? I'm not completely sure, but I get the impression that whereas morality is about doing what's right, ethics is rather the study of this topic.

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (2)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#39615303)

(after writing all this I now sit and ponder if I were trolled...)

Let's see. You have 549 posts under your user name. He has 1 under his.

And the guy bothered to register a user name, when anybody else would have just posted as an "Anonymous Coward".

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614407)

On top of that we introduced various bugs and weird failures to the open source version, which would mean that the open source users would call our premium priced support telephone number. We needed to fine tune this over the year a bit , as we didn't introduce enough bugs in the beginning. But later we would start getting lots of support calls for bugs and it made a good amount of money.

I hope your customers see this, "Expert" Coder, and sue the ever-loving pants off your shit-tank masquerading as a company. Fixing bugs more slowly in the free version is one thing, but DELIBERATELY introducing bugs that you'll get support revenue for is utterly despicable.

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614425)

Redhat, is that you?

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (1)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | about 2 years ago | (#39614431)

On top of that we introduced various bugs and weird failures to the open source version, which would mean that the open source users would call our premium priced support telephone number. We needed to fine tune this over the year a bit , as we didn't introduce enough bugs in the beginning. But later we would start getting lots of support calls for bugs and it made a good amount of money.

Where's the +1 Trolling mod when you need it?

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614455)

Oh come on guys this is +5 funny.

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614603)

Despite the complaints this comment receives, I have seen open source projects created by startups that do exactly what he described. The practice is evil, and probably deserves a special name, like "crippleware" (sorry, I might not be PC). Usually, the open source version is built to be unscalable server software, such that once you give it decent data, traffic, cpu time, etc., it crashes in silly ways that were by design. This is usually shown by the part of the code that crashes under load being poorly written or just simply a stupid concept (perhaps the work of the intern that no one liked). Projects like this are sad when you consider the future of open source, but it is reality, which will ultimately get more skewed with such misleading work. I am restraining myself from mentioning projects/companies, because the alternative to this explanation is that they are simply incompetent companies... sometimes it is hard to know. Either way, they will hopefully find corporate death sooner than most.

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39615777)

Yes, my company investigated a number of open source CMSes and found practices exactly as he described. The OSS version was an obsolete or unmaintained branch, had installation issues, or was crippled in some obvious way. In some cases there was a community effort to patch the software, but generally users chose the payware version.

My guess these companies made a marketing splash by releasing "open source" CMS to compete with shitheaps such as WordPress and Drupal. But once they acquired a paying customer base, they realized it wasn't worth the effort.

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39615783)

Yeah, I don't think OP was trolling in the sense of posting some nonsense just to see if he could draw a reaction. What he claims his company did actually makes a certain amount of business sense. Is there an ethical question, yes, but it's not obvious to me that this constitutes "evil" behavior, because most successful businesses rely on certain "moats" to protect themselves from cut-rate competition.

The classic open source business model advocated by Stallman and others - give away the software, charge for consulting, training, and support - itself has an obvious tension. Why shouldn't the software be so reliable and easy to use that paid consulting, training, and support would be unnecessary? After a little bit of hand-wringing, people usually conclude that "well, we have to make money somehow so we can fund future development of the software." Exactly.

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (2)

Shoten (260439) | about 2 years ago | (#39614713)

A few years we were in the same position as you are. We wanted to open source some of our technology and software but were trying to figure out how to make it work. Eventually we decided to offer both proprietary version of our software, and open source one. They are fairly identical and we offer support services for both.

The trick is, to ensure that we would convert the open source users to paying ones, we made most of the software features to do the heavy work on our servers, and then would strip the code altogether from the open source version. If users wanted to use the program they would for all practicality need to buy an yearly support contract from us, which included access to the servers hosting the code. On top of that we introduced various bugs and weird failures to the open source version, which would mean that the open source users would call our premium priced support telephone number. We needed to fine tune this over the year a bit , as we didn't introduce enough bugs in the beginning. But later we would start getting lots of support calls for bugs and it made a good amount of money.

This also made quite many sales of the proprietary version, so in overall it worked quite well. You might want to try something similar.

Ohhhh...you work for Tenable, don't you? Or are you Oracle's new head of product development?

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39615225)

we introduced various bugs and weird failures to the open source version

Heck, by the looks of things, all open sores developers do that.

Re:This is how our start-up handles it (3, Informative)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 2 years ago | (#39615421)

That's an "interesting" approach to marketing.

The downsides are that the people you want as clients will think your products lack quality, and if you ever grow enough to be noticed, somebody will fork your application and everybody will change for the fork.

The Upsides are... Well, you say it worked quite well. Altough I can't imagine how, I'm probably missing something.

If you think open source is not the way to go.... (0, Redundant)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 2 years ago | (#39614383)

If you think open source is not the way to go, then why bother asking slashdot? Seriously? You won't get the answers you're looking for here.

Basically, the only reply to OSS business models is "support your product". If the product is so easy/good that no support is required, then you might as well have no product at all. Then the only thing that remains is using your free product as a showcase for your paid products, but those won't be open source.

As much as I love open source, if you don't serve specific niches or aren't a big company, you're unlikely to get far when you're a one man shop.

Re:If you think open source is not the way to go.. (5, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 2 years ago | (#39614391)

If you think open source is not the way to go, then why bother asking slashdot? Seriously? You won't get the answers you're looking for here.

Yes he will.

The way I read it, ethically he thinks open source might be the right thing. Practically, it might not be a reality. He's fishing for examples of unconventional open-source money generating techniques.

Re:If you think open source is not the way to go.. (5, Informative)

Acapulco (1289274) | about 2 years ago | (#39614579)

I believe parent has nailed it.

Ethically you want to do what is closest to your heart if you will, but unfortunately you need to eat, and usually this involves doing the opposite of ethical (or at least far from what the ideal-ethics tell you)

So I propose this. How about you release version 1.0 and 1.5 for example (or 1.0 and 2.0 or something) as regular closed-source software, and then when the next version comes out, you release the previous one as open source (e.g. release 1.0 and 2.0 for pay, when you release 3.0 for licensing you release at the same time v1.0 as open source)

Of course this would mean that you would have to have a road map for what you plan to introduce to your software along the years, so its easier to establish which version is to be safely released as open source without it hurting your paying customers. So, I think you would have to make significant changes and upgrades along the life of your software so it stays competitive and entices costumers to keep upgrading instead of waiting for the open source version, or in the case where the user doesn't really need the "greatest and latest" he could fallback to v1.0.

Disclaimer: I haven't actually put to work something like this, and actually this is an idea I believe I read here on Slashdot as it is, but I think, if not directly useful to you, could give you an idea of a "hybrid" approach, where certain functionality is still closed source as it requires the most of your time (so it costs more) but you still have the open version to maybe encourage some devs to take interest in this framework, or at least show your clientele that you really care about open source however economically infeasible it is for you.

I would say its on the same line of thought as "pay-what-you-think-its-worth" for games like World of Goo and such. You could effectively buy it for 1 dollar, but like me, a lot of people thought it was really nice of them to do this and since I actually enjoyed the game a lot, I payed like 15 or 20 USD (the original price). And even use that as a marketing tool.

Just my 2 bytes...I mean cents.

Re:If you think open source is not the way to go.. (3, Insightful)

Shifty0x88 (1732980) | about 2 years ago | (#39614655)

You could always do what I've seen a couple of projects do, release a simpler open-source version and make your pay-for version have more advanced features.

I would suggest that as you add more and more advanced features to the pay-for version, that you include some of the older features inside of the open-source version

You could also ask for donations for the open-source download through paypal(remember you can't make them pay for it if it is just open-source source code)

My parent: Acapulco, has a similar idea but he just wants the older version to be open-sourced where my idea gives you a little more control over what stays closed-sourced and what is open-sourced. Maybe you do want them to pay for a very hard to program feature or something that took you a long time to R&D, which I can understand.

Just remember if you alienate your open-source community they will leave you and you might as well have not spent the time on making some/part/all of it open source to begin with

Re:If you think open source is not the way to go.. (4, Insightful)

ChatHuant (801522) | about 2 years ago | (#39615029)

Ethically you want to do what is closest to your heart if you will, but unfortunately you need to eat, and usually this involves doing the opposite of ethical (or at least far from what the ideal-ethics tell you)

You know, this sounds weird to me. Can an ideal that forces you to die of hunger be called "ethical" in any kind of reasonable real world moral system? That means nobody (at least nobody alive) can ever be "ethical" (or honest, or moral, or whatever you want to call it). That makes the particular ideal deeply flawed, and the moral system it belongs to is at least extremely questionable, if not completely senseless.

Now, I recognize the fact that people have and sometimes still do die for ideals - but the death is almost always caused by external factors opposed to whatever ideal they fight for, not by the ideal itself - the only exceptions I can think of are some bizarre suicide cults.

Re:If you think open source is not the way to go.. (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#39615253)

Can an ideal that forces you to die of hunger be called "ethical" in any kind of reasonable real world moral system?

Yes, some people are willing to die for their beliefs.

I can tell you right now, I would be willing to die to defend democracy, if it ever came to that extreme, and a lot of people would die to defend their families.

No one will ever die for money, but they will die for many other things. Thus ideals are more powerful than money.

Re:If you think open source is not the way to go.. (1, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | about 2 years ago | (#39615289)

Your examples are not what's he's talking about.

Are you saying that if in a proper democratic election it was voted to have you killed, say everyone decided that your race just should go away, you'd be fine with it?

Would you fight to defend a system that is trying to kill you? And would you still consider the system ethical when when it's doing that?

Re:If you think open source is not the way to go.. (1, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#39615381)

Are you saying that if in a proper democratic election it was voted to have you killed, say everyone decided that your race just should go away, you'd be fine with it?

Of course I wouldn't be fine with it, are you insane?

The problem in that situation isn't democracy, it's the people you're living with. "Democracy doesn't guarantee good government, it guarantees the government the people deserve."

Re:If you think open source is not the way to go.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39615639)

but they will kill for many other things like...money

FTFY

CAPTCHA: mucilage (definitely a snotty way to treat other people :P)

Re:If you think open source is not the way to go.. (0, Offtopic)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 2 years ago | (#39615625)

Ethics are perforce abstract. They are something you reach for, not an absolute without contexts. For instance, if your ethics tell you to help others eat, that in no way means you need starve to do it.

Shooting the shit out of your example.

Re:If you think open source is not the way to go.. (4, Insightful)

lkcl (517947) | about 2 years ago | (#39615171)

I believe parent has nailed it.

Ethically you want to do what is closest to your heart if you will, but unfortunately you need to eat, and usually this involves doing the opposite of ethical (or at least far from what the ideal-ethics tell you)

So I propose this. How about you release version 1.0 and 1.5 for example (or 1.0 and 2.0 or something) as regular closed-source software, and then when the next version comes out, you release the previous one as open source (e.g. release 1.0 and 2.0 for pay, when you release 3.0 for licensing you release at the same time v1.0 as open source)

this is what trolltech, mysql and other companies did. it never goes down well. it's _extremely_ unpopular, and absolutely guarantees that there will be no community *other* that paid-up staff members involved in the actual development of the software.

the reason is very simple: any person wishing to help make improvements to the software knows full well that they might as well not bother, because the free software version that they're using is hopelessly out-of-date.

in the case of QT, what actually happened was that the version 3 of QT (QT3) actually developed into an independent fork. the trinity desktop team now have taken full responsibility for its maintenance. bit of a digression here, but that version is years old, _but_ it has the advantage that it's much much smaller (faster, less code) than QT4 or QT5. QT4 is severe bloat-ware that performs extremely badly on ARM9 and ARM11 platforms.

anyway the point is: the "model" you propose only really works if you're a large corporation with lots of resources and lots of money and are willing to piss people off and make even the free software community absolutely desperate and beholden to you. that works for things like mysql and qt but dude, your software had better be _really_ shit hot to make these non-community-inclusive options work.

Re:If you think open source is not the way to go.. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#39615229)

So I propose this. How about you release version 1.0 and 1.5 for example (or 1.0 and 2.0 or something) as regular closed-source software, and then when the next version comes out, you release the previous one as open source (e.g. release 1.0 and 2.0 for pay, when you release 3.0 for licensing you release at the same time v1.0 as open source)

IDA Pro does (or did) something very similar to this. No one in the open source community seems to want to compete with them, so they release an older open source version and a newer paid version.

Re:If you think open source is not the way to go.. (2)

hendrikboom (1001110) | about 2 years ago | (#39615387)

That was the ghostscript model. Each version was opensourced two years after being sold. Sales were to printer manufacturers.

-- hendrik

Re:If you think open source is not the way to go.. (1)

oztiks (921504) | about 2 years ago | (#39615677)

My problem is this. How can one spend time writing a piece of software wanting to base it on a business model BEFORE the business model was actually considered? The whole post smells of "lets get /, posters wound up over nothing" but moving back to the question how does one fund a serious operation without taking in bare business concepts? Is the world so Gen Y these days that money has now actually started growing on trees?

To answer the question open or closed source? I'd consider how valuable is the software first. If you're out to make money and its so valuable and unique that other people will profit from it without returning thing benefits back to you, close it and move it. If its commodity software open it up, let the tech world tinker with it for free.

As for the FOSS lovers out there, my statement is this, the world makes money from selling tobacco, alcohol, weapons, oil, blah blah blah. Selling something you busted your ass on creating which only helps other businesses MAKE MONEY ANYWAY is not unethical - get a fuckin haircut before posting your responses, thank you!

Who's everybody (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614397)

If you have a cool component or two, nothing wrong with releasing those packages, but seeking profit isn't evil, and I dont know why you would open source the whole thing

Nothing guarantees you can feed yourself (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614445)

Not open source, not closed source, not open closed source. It's a gamble regardless of what you do, the only thing you can do is play the odds.

Do it like the Apps in the Apple Store (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614453)

Here's how you should do it. Say you have something like Microsoft Word. Give away the product, but only include one font and cripple most of the functions. Then offer additional fonts and functions for $0.50 each.

And make sure the included font is comic sans. Charge $0.51 for "cut", $0.52 for "paste", and $0.53 for "copy".

People will love it! They could get a usable word processor for less than $10!

Offer a "discount" for the full product with everything unlocked, and sell it for $50. Also make it so that functions can't be unlocked except by downloading extra code, and make the DRM so painful that even hackers will think twice.

Re:Do it like the Apps in the Apple Store (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614517)

And add a function where you can buy 3 random fonts, functions, or fonts and functions for $0.99.

Wanna bet how much money you could make off of that?

The creators of Mass Effect 3 were really onto something.

Re:Do it like the Apps in the Apple Store (1)

Logic and Reason (952833) | about 2 years ago | (#39614653)

The creators of Mass Effect 3 were really onto something.

Magic: The Gathering and other collectible card games have been doing it for decades.

Re:Do it like the Apps in the Apple Store (2)

Shifty0x88 (1732980) | about 2 years ago | (#39614669)

And every other free-to-play, but not to play for long, game

I hate that game model, it just makes the people that spend the most money get the best stuff and everyone else is just trying to kill 1,000,000 Level 0 Monsters so they can afford the Level 1 Gun, but oops, a person that bought all the best stuff just Player-Killed you, and you lost all your kills, sorry!

Sunset (5, Interesting)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#39614459)

Try sunsetting your proprietaryness.

Have your product be proprietary for a finite period of time, and once a particular version is EOL'ed or otherwise ceases to be commercially viable, open source it and let the public go nuts over it.

You only need to keep your leading edge keen in the market.

Re:Sunset (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 2 years ago | (#39614687)

It's a little early t be saying it's the end of proprietary software packages, but the OP mentions the word "framework", so it's a little unclear what exactly he is developing. Proprietary frameworks outside of large vendor created software ecosystems(Windows, iOS etc) are definitely on their way out. If devs cannot get access to your framework they aren't going to use it and frameworks with a very small user base tend to fail as nobody wants to devote any time to learning it if they don't think it will be useful creating a viscious cycle ultimately dooming the framework.

And yes I know that SOME proprietary, non-gratis frameworks exist on their own, but they are by far the exception.

Re:Sunset (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 2 years ago | (#39615661)

If your proposing to release the previous version as open source every time a new version is release you are not going to get any community members working on it beceause they know any changes they make (and try to submit upstream) will probably be incompatible with the changes you are making on the currently-propietary version. Open Source (with collaboration) ONLY works when all parties are working on the SAME version. Otherwise all you will end up with is a fork every time a new version is released.

Re:Sunset (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#39615815)

Full open source is always best for the community at large.

If commercial considerations prevent it though, it's still better than nothing at all.

One possibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614465)

These troll postings are getting tiresome.

Ok the poster states:

Any ideas on business models that would allow me to open source while guaranteeing I can feed myself?"

So move to a country with a viable welfare system, Open Source the project and if you don't make enough money use welfare to feed yourself.

Hint: business models don't come with guarantees. If taking the risk of Open Sourcing it is not acceptable to you then don't. What advantages exactly are you hoping to get from Open Sourcing your product? None are stated. What are you actual goals? none are stated. This submission is full of all kinds of fail.

open source vs. free software (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614467)

"Everyone is telling me I should make it open source."

Open source is about allowing more people to look at the source code, for faster/better development. My guess is that most people who're telling you to make it open source have no idea what they're talking about. In fact, even you don't seem to understand the difference between open source and free software, because you write "[...] to become profitable on service alone." Free software is NOT the same as open source software. Free software is about freedom for its own sake, not about faster/better development. Start reading here [gnu.org].

Re:open source vs. free software (2)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39615865)

Free software is NOT the same as open source software.

Yet they use the same licenses. Open Source Initiative's "Open Source Definition" is taken nearly word for word from the "Debian Free Software Guidelines".

Errr... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614469)

Why is "everyone" telling you to make it open source? Or do they make their living off evil "closed source"?

So erm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614481)

Do you have any customers? Is your product targetted at business users (who would be interested in support contracts) or consumers? There is no one size fits all open source business plan, all I can say is that as a user I'm far more ameniable to vendors who realise source code access is important.

So, WHY? (3, Interesting)

CAOgdin (984672) | about 2 years ago | (#39614485)

What are you trying to do, make a living or change the world? (You generally can't do both at once; if you get rich from work, you can THEN maybe change the world.)

Let's start with the basics: What's in it for YOU? Is open source a buzzword, something you think you have to do ethically, just don't have the chops to turn it into a business, it based on other open source code? Is income something you vitally need to continue your work, to live a better life, or are you independently wealthy (I think you've ruled out the latter)?

I agree with an earlier poster: Make the core code that delivers basic utility to the user open source, if you want to use it as your "loss leader" to show them what's possible. Include all the extra features in the menus or configuration options of your program, so users can see what they're missing (clicking on it opens a window telling them it's in the commercial product, if they'd just buy it).

But, remember, open source is just a way for other people to leverage your code and make it into a competitive product...some will even violate your license agreement, and modify it to suit their customer base. Do you really want to spawn your own competitors?

Refer people to web hosting. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614505)

I don't know what your product is exactly, but if it's a framework or something that needs to be installed on a server, just about all webhosts will pay $100+ for referrals that sign up. Wordpress makes literally millions from their four web hosting affiliate links at wordpress.org/hosting ... do that!

Depends on the customers (1)

wonderboss (952111) | about 2 years ago | (#39614511)

We use a lot of open source where I work and pay for support.
I don't think most individuals will pay for it.

opensouce later, when there is a userbase (1)

zugedneb (601299) | about 2 years ago | (#39614527)

until than, keep things to yourself. Opensource parts, if you want a community to join developing, or modding... Or, make an agreement with your fellows, that if the company is split, or fails, you all agree to opensource the things that you have made.

End Users, OEMs, support, licenses, new code (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614531)

I've worked for a company with a Open and Enterprise version. The Open version was full featured enough for a large number of customers but quite a few wanted the extra features and support of the Enterprise version.

So we made money from:
1. Customers buying the Enterprise version for the extra features.
2. Customers buying the Enterprise version for the included support.
3. Customers using the Open version but paying for the Enterprise support.
4. OEM sales: Other software companies that paid for a commercial license to the Open product (none cared about the Enterprise features) to use in their projects.
5. OEM sales: Other software companies that paid for support from our developers for assistance and new features.

Half the revenue came from OEM sales. Eventually, the company's business was acquired by two other companies that each wanted different portions of the software.

Note that company had external funding and was not expected to be immediately profitable.

Re:End Users, OEMs, support, licenses, new code (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614621)

The company was Likewise which developed an active directory authentication stack and later a file server stack with a CIFS implementation. Pieces were acquired by BeyondTrust and Isilon.

When Likewise first started, they tried some different projects, like remote Linux management. Out of that grew active directory authentication using winbind. They eventually created their own implementation they could sell under their own license. With their large amount of Windows protocol knowledge, they decided to implement a CIFS server that had amazing performance.

Go both routes (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614565)

I'm currently working on a product that will have 3 components. 2 of them will be open source and 1 will be closed source. The web front end and the plugins will be open source (maybe optional) and the engine that does the actual heavy lifting will be closed and pay for only. Obviously, the plugins will be of little use to anyone not using the core product, but the web front will be able to be modified to work with any of the current products on the market. I'm okay with that though, because if it turns out that I have the best web front end then people will use it and it'll give exposer to my core product that it's designed to work with even if someone modifies to work with a competing product.

I'm still debating on how I want to do the plugins. I'm thinking about using LUA, but then that would force everyone to open source their plugins. I'd ultimately like to see a little ecosystem built around the plugins that allow people to make money off of them if they choose to. So I might go with a native c++ api as well.

Maybe this is something you could do as well. I've talked with several people in the industry this is targeting and that's how I've came up with this model. They don't really care to modify the core of the product as long as it does what it's spouse to do. They care about being able to modify all of the reporting and what not which is what the front end does. So it appears to be a win win for everyone.

Posting AC because I moderated the discussion.

-wmbetts

Guaranteed revenue? I don't think so (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614567)

While I understand your concerns about making your project open source, keep in mind that neither path guarantees anything. Making it open source will make it easier for it to become known and used, but you won't be able to charge for it.

Now, in your case, open source may very well be the way to go; even if you developed a great framework, most potential customers will demand a "real" company behind it; what if they buy the product, and the day afterwards you decide to stop supporting it? From my experience, companies prefer either open source from small developers, or commercial software from companies.

Of course, you can try to get some venture capital and create a company; try researching potential customers, and think the reasons why they would want to use your product; if you sincerely believe it will succeed, chances are that you'll find an investor who also will :)
Should you go for the open source way, there are alternative ways to make money, but it depends on the nature of the product; to name a few, donations, advertising (in-product, in the website), premium versions, certifications, books, toolbar installation, commercial license...

Any ideas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614587)

No. If you're starting a business, first and above all focus on making it profitable so you can feed yourself, pay your employees and grow it to the point where you can give something back to the community if you wish. If that means starting with closed source, do it. After 12 years I'm able to give my staff a share of the business, both I and they both use and give back to open source projects, and we can afford to give a lump to charity too. If I'd tried to do this from day one I wouldn't have got as far as day day two. You can't eat a sense of ethics.

Some possible models (4, Interesting)

alexmipego (903944) | about 2 years ago | (#39614607)

It heavily depends on what your product is, but you've at least these possible models:

1) Fully open source with lack or light documentation. This makes your product essentially free but users pay for support and/or the docs. I can't remember any specific example of a project selling the docs but I'm sure someone will.

2) Dual License model. A very popular example is ExtJS which is GPL (v3 iirc), however, if you wish to keep some code secret (including server parts) you might need a commercial license. And of course there are support plans available, as well as SVN/GIT access to the latest (devel) version.

3) Dual License with a Enterprise version. Essentially what MySql does where they offered an open source version but if you wanted fine tunned performance, support for enterprise hardware and support then you need the Enterprise version.

4) Dual License with long term support. Some projects like Liferay or Red Hat Enterprise use free versions as beta versions - after a while they release a long term supported version for enterprises and backport the important security and bug fixes. Maybe you already know but some companies are very slow to adopt new tech and ever slower to keep up, if they can keep a 4 year old version of the software that does the job well and still get support and bug fixes, you're best pals.

5) Early access model. Another possibility is to offer early access to new versions. For instance, the Xming project (a X11 server for Windows) offers donators access to new versions much earlier. You can even create a "pool" mode where you release the new version once X dollars are donated.

Depending on your target audience and the possibility of some of the adjustments required by those suggestions you might find a suitable model or cook some solution with ideas from several.

From someone in a similar spot, I wish you luck!

Sale of manuals/docs: Pegasus Mail (1)

Fencepost (107992) | about 2 years ago | (#39614725)

I believe this has ended, but at one point Pegasus Mail was supported largely by the sale of manuals.

Re:Some possible models (1)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#39614765)

Good summary of options ^_^

It really comes down to what the product actually is. Dual licensing can work really well, esp when the product is used as a piece of larger code bases then customers who do not want to open up can pay to integrate it into their closed application. Plenty of better options then the earlier suggested intentional crippling.

Re:Some possible models (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614767)

One extension to the Early Access model is the directed development model. I'm thinking of a product like plone that has a lot of small-time users and a few big-time users. The big-time users work with the developers to write features that are important to them and get early access to them, then the developers generalize it and eventually get it into the main branch for everybody.

This wouldn't work as well for a game or something else where nobody's willing to put up enough money to pay for developer time.

Re:Some possible models (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#39615165)

Any ideas on business models that would allow me to open source while guaranteeing I can feed myself?

There are no business models, either proprietary or open source, that will guarantee that you can feed yourself.

Also it sounds like you've already written the software and that you're just now trying to think of the business model for it. You've done it all backwards. This is not to say, that I haven't done the same thing myself, but I'm just trying to point out how wrong headed your way (and my way) really are in the real business world.

Also, you don't mention your competition, or anything about what your software does? What do you want from us that you couldn't already have found on your own through Wikipedia? The most important part, the competitive environment you're going to be in, is going to be crucial to the kind of business model you can sustain, and you haven't really told us anything about that part.

Just to give you another way to think about the problem, sometimes, some proprietary solutions can not make any headway in the marketplace (and can not feed their developers) when there is already an entrenched competing open source solution or an entrenched competing proprietary solution already out there (that is already considered good enough by customers). So if you're coming from behind (presumably without any funding compared to your existing/future competitors) your best bet may be to do something drastically different from them, and whether that drastic difference is going open source, or going proprietary, or doing something completely weird, it's anyone's guess whether any of those decisions will actually succeed, but those decisions and their successes/failures will largely depend on what your software/service does and the kind of competitive atmosphere that software/service is going to be in.

Re:Some possible models (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 2 years ago | (#39615673)

Regarding 1) Nobody is going to want to contribute to an open source project if they can't read the docs. Don't expect ANY community patches or help if you go this route!

Re:Some possible models (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39615807)

Wrong. There are a number of programming frameworks which survive on book sales and have huge developer communities. #1 example is probably Ruby on Rails.

just a couple thoughts... (4, Interesting)

VoidEngineer (633446) | about 2 years ago | (#39614627)

One consideration to think about is that the people who are recommending you release as open source may, in reality, simply be advocating for the ability to make customizations and build on top of the framework you're developing. An open API made actually serve their needs; and may be something they haven't considered, or don't know to ask about. So, open API, proprietary framework is one possibility.

Second, consider a subscription model to a proprietary database. It's a classic business model, and can be added to most any project relatively easily. Even open source ones. On the support side, the proprietary database may be a) premium support forum, b) bleeding edge features not incorporated into the base build, c) recent bug fixes and security patches not incorporated into the base build. On the feature side, there are countless opportunities, but they'll be dependent upon your framework and what it does. For example, if you have a service that is geolocation aware, your propietary database might be a list of locations of interest.

Make sure you're asking the 'right questions' (1)

TheMonkeyCant (2569347) | about 2 years ago | (#39614635)

I start with this question these days when I have an idea: How do I compete with someone offering the same/similar service without directly charging the users? techdirt readers will probably tell you this, regardless of whether or not you open source your framework: "if you can't compete with free* then you can't compete" Still good to go? ... once you are, then the questions like this: How can I benefit by using open source license for my project? How will I include the community in my project? If you're worried about commercial competition, then you might simply need to choose a more restrictive open source license (gpl 3) rather than a more open license (apache/mit); you might opt to dual license as well, so that you could have a revenue stream from your "competition".. You might check out https://www.insightcommunity.com/step2/ [insightcommunity.com] to get feedback on your startup project... I think you'll find it useful for posing these sorts of questions... I believe there are also some other resources that'll help you explore your business model choices.

A different suggestion: ask a customer (3, Insightful)

mbkennel (97636) | about 2 years ago | (#39614643)

So you've worked for five years on this but haven't yet thought about the business model until now?

Instead of asking slashdot, how about this radical suggestion: talk to a potential customer.

As in, find somebody who might actually be a paying customer. You do know who they are, right? If you don't, stop programming right away and figure it out and get at least 5 names of people with their email & telephone.

You don't necessarily do what they ask (they want the moon, documented and supported and customzied, for 99 cents), but you will find out more useful information to make your decision. Talk human-to-human, on the phone or in person.

What business model will result in getting revenue now? What are your customers' needs? What constrains their decisions to buy or not?

A suggestion: open-source common interface code necessary to link your system with a customers' existing software. Integration problems are often a big worry among customers.

Feed yourself (4, Insightful)

Xtifr (1323) | about 2 years ago | (#39614649)

I can't think of a way of guaranteeing that you can feed yourself whether or not you open-source your code! Making it as an independent software vendor is hard. Above you, you have big companies who like money and won't hesitate to offer similar software, independently developed, if it looks like you've found a good market. Below you, you have FLOSS developers who won't hestitate to offer similar software for free if it looks like your software offers useful features for users. (In some cases, these groups may overlap.)

That said, you haven't given us anywhere near enough information to answer your question. Are you talking about highly specialized software for a niche market, or general purpose software with a potentially huge market? The edge-effects of open-source development are much more likely to be useful and beneficial to you in the latter case.

What do you get out of open-sourcing your software? Free publicity is almost certainly the biggest factor. How big is your advertising budget? Also, what about distribution channels? Remember, you're competing with big companies and (if you go the non-free route) open-source developers/companies. How are people going to hear about your software, and find it if they do hear about it, and decide if they like it better than other similar software?

Making your code proprietary greatly increases your per-user income, but makes it much more difficult (and expensive) to get new users. Open-sourcing your code makes it much easier to get new users, but greatly reduces your per-user income. Independent comic artist Phil Foglio started putting his Girl Genius comic up as a free webcomic, and said that his readership grew tenfold and his sales quadrupled. But that may or may not be typical.

There's also the possibility of hybrid models, like releasing the core as open source, but charging for add-ons, or, if you think other companies may want to adapt and sell your code, offering a choice between a restrictive free license (e.g. GPL) or a commercial for-pay license. Depending on what your program is and how it works, those may or may not be viable options--you haven't given us enough information to tell.

Bottom line, though: all the cards are stacked against you no matter which way you go. And, while you've given us very little to go on, it's quite likely that even if you gave us ten times the details you have so far, it still wouldn't be enough information to make more than a wild guess. Going it independent is hard and extremely risky. There's a reason that something like 90% of all programmers are employed developing internal software that never gets licensed or distributed outside of a single company--it's one of the few ways to be sure you eat.

Make them pay for the source code. (1)

backslashdot (95548) | about 2 years ago | (#39614699)

I don't know what you are making, you didn't provide info. How popular do you expect the software to get (be realistic)? If you think it will displace Apache in 2 months, then you should make it open source and freely downloadable. But otherwise if you need to buy groceries and stuff, I think you should sell it with the source included (you can sell service contracts on top of that). Choose a license that gives you, for a limited time, a fair amount of control over their ability to sell copies of your work. You can even choose the GPL, but I dont think that's a good idea.

Whenever you release a new version of your software GPL the previous version and make it freely available .. while keeping the current version for sale at a fixed price (with source).

Again all of this depends on what you're making, and if you need to eat etc.

What's your business model? Target Market? Etc. (1)

Fencepost (107992) | about 2 years ago | (#39614701)

You don't give nearly enough detail here for people to be able to help much. Are you talking about an app for mobile devices where it'll cost a few dollars, business software for small/midsize companies, or (potentially) enterprise-level business software?

For an app, you could make it open source but sell it for a buck or two - most app purchasers will happily just get it through the relevant app store; those who will care about the open source nature will hopefully be willing to throw an (insignificant) couple of bucks to you particularly if you mention that (and the convenience of getting it that way vs. downloading/loading separately); those who could purchase but are too cheap to part with less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee are the ones who're probably more likely to pirate anyway. The biggest danger here is someone else lifting your code, rebranding and selling it themselves. (e.g. JMRI and Jacobsen v. Katzer)

For small business software, is it a turnkey app or something that requires setup? I have no great suggestions for turnkey apps unless you're offering customization/extension to clients; otherwise you're selling setup, configuration, support. Your business model here is that some of your customers COULD do this (or hire someone else to do it), but it's worth their time to have you do it. Further, whether sales of support are viable depends on the software and what it does.

For enterprise-scale, your selling point is that it will cost less for them to purchase the software and services from you than to dedicate resources to learn it. If learning, configuration, etc. are going to take someone a month plus some problems for users while things get straightened out, the cost in staff time is huge - a skilled IT person could easily be $10k/month with benefits, and if there are 500 users that lose 2 hours of productivity each for a month or two, you could be looking at six figures of total cost to do it in-house instead of getting the professional services from you to do it up front.

I used to work on software that sold (installed & configured) for $70-100k and higher. At one point early on I looked at what we were doing/selling and thought "Why are companies paying for this? We're not doing anything revolutionary here!" but it didn't take long to realize that while our larger customers COULD build something comparable in-house, it could well take a skilled programmer a year to do so assuming they had one available and idle. Basically, it was worth it for our customers to use our product instead of doing it themselves, and even at the prices we were charging the ROI was such that I wouldn't be surprised if we actually fudged numbers to make it look *worse* in some cases (I wasn't in sales, but I always thought going in and claiming a 3-6 month break-even ROI would be questionable as in "are you saying that our processes are THAT bad?")

only compile for money (1)

MicroSlut (2478760) | about 2 years ago | (#39614707)

I find that many provide source code that doesn't compile correctly while keeping the source that does, then sell the compiled executables as a service. Kind of a roundabout way of getting people to pay for your product up front so you don't starve. Say what you like, people are greedy.

Re:only compile for money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39615745)

That won't work against knowledgable, 'starving artist' programmers who will fix the bugs anyway if there isn't 'a ton' of source code to deal with.

Dude (2)

kikito (971480) | about 2 years ago | (#39614719)

Kickstart it.

That's what all the cool dudes are doing.

Re:Dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39615675)

Provided you have enough people behind you to support you this way...otherwise Kickstarter and its ilk are a waste of time.

CAPTCHA: imbecile (how apt! XD )

Who? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614747)

The second line makes me curious. "Everyone is telling me I should make it open source." Really, who? Other developers? Your customers? Business partners? I'm a big fan of open source and I think it's great to contribute to open source projects in one's spare time, but the first priority should be to do what is right for the business. If that's going open source, then great. If not, then keep things locked down for now.

The thing is, it's easy to start closed-source and open later. But if you start open sourced, it's hard to but that genie back in the bottle.

Pay your bills first, consider open sourcing later, once you're established.

Threshold Pledge System (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39614753)

Why not try this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threshold_pledge_system). Advertise this and if there's enough demand for what you're doing, the pledges will roll in. Once the project is finished and released, ka-ching, it's pay day.

Write software for consumers. (0)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#39614777)

Most people don't know how to compile code. Simply make the source available (under GPL or whatever so that you can prevent other companies from selling your software) and still charge for the working version. Or, if you're developing mobile software, charge for the version on the App store.

If you're writing software for developers (like libraries) you're not going to be able to do it unless you can keep your costs low enough that you can get buy on the charity of other developers. I don't mean any offense, but developers aren't the most charitable lot either.

Revenue stream types... (1)

Shoten (260439) | about 2 years ago | (#39614847)

Obviously, you can't open source your product and make money off sales of the product; the two are by definition incompatible. The way that open-source based businesses make their money is on services...integration/implementation, support, that kind of thing. But these require a critical mass to exist; if there isn't a good-sized install base, there can be no demand for services. And if you take the route of putting out a great product in open source and then forking/commercializing it (like Tenable did with Nessus, for example) then you will likely piss off a lot of people, and fail entirely if your product isn't totally bananas-great. (Admittedly, Nessus is that great, which is why people still use it.) So, honestly, you have to decide between being a viable start-up company with a product or being an open-source project that may, if you're lucky, eventually result in a need for services that you can then provide a few years from now. The two do not coincide here...and just using some kind of business model will not alter the way that the laws of supply and demand interact.

Everyone is telling me... (1)

namgge (777284) | about 2 years ago | (#39614867)

... I should make it open source.

Ignore what 'everyone' except paying customers are telling you.

It's very difficult to cold-sell niche services to companies who can afford to pay for them if you are a one-man business because the risk of you ceasing to trade for some reason is a deal-breaker. People sometimes talk about using an escrow type arrangement for source code to mitigate risk, but IME talk is as far as it usually gets.

BIG piles of Venture Capital + Dual-Licensing (1)

ivi (126837) | about 2 years ago | (#39614887)

Spend your VC funding wisely... more modest office rentals (Remember: MySQL AB's founder let 70% of his staff - in a subsequent company - work at home, meaning the Co. didn't have to rent as much space. See his practical exceptions to that rule - intended to keep single staff from burning out at home - eg, in his eCorner talk), modest vehicle for yourself (Eg, instead of buying a flash EV, just convert your own car to 100% electric; & install only Tier 1 (slow) charge points at home & work, for it), modest travel costs (Do you really need Business Class? Network on-line or at conferences.), etc.

Actually, you should already have worked out your (expected) revenue plans.

Finally, OSS can be released concurrently with a proprietary release (same or similar software, under a -different- license).

Some include some "secret sauce" functions -only- in the proprietary version, while reducing testing costs (on the rest of the software) - with community feedback on the OSS release.

Carefully written license conditions will preclude use of OSS version by those in your (intended) target market.

Not necessarily mentioning its existence couldn't hurt.

Just a few suggestions (2)

pikine (771084) | about 2 years ago | (#39614911)

  • Don't give more than what you're comfortably giving. Richard Stallman at least had a boiler room to live in, graciously provided by MIT, and there is always free food around MIT campus. He could afford to give away without a lot of material requirement in his lifestyle.
  • End users don't really care which open source license your software is, but businesses do. Businesses can't stand GPL and will ask for BSD-like licenses. An example to consider is that QT was licensed by Trolltech under GPL, so it let them keep the ability to make money from business partners if they wanted to.
  • I'd even go a step further and license your software under Affero GPL which requires software providing public network service that contain your software to give network users the access to source code as well. It's especially far-reaching since you said your software is a framework.
  • If you built an end product around the framework, you can open source the framework but keep the end product proprietary. Think of the difference between Apache Portable Runtime (APR) and the Apache httpd server itself. APR is a framework, but httpd is a product.
  • If you're really concerned about open sourcing as a moral decision, think about what drove Richard Stallman to open source [gnu.org] in the first place. Instead of offering you a concrete suggestion here, you can look at the problem Stallman was facing, compare it with your situation, and see if you can offer another moral solution.
  • Under no circumstances I'd use the controlled obsolescence approach (old version open source, new version proprietary) or try to sabotage the open source version (intentionally withhold documentation, inadequate build system, etc.), as suggested by other Slashdot commenters. They hurt most the people who are the most capable to give back to you.

Why open source it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39615007)

Open source is fine if you have something of general utility with a wide audience but limited monetization value. But I assume your software solves a specific problem for a niche market?

If your software, created by uour blood sweat and tears provides a value that you can quantify,the charge accordingly. That's what I did in 1997 and now my company sells $7 million a year in software and services, employs 60 people, most of them programmers.

Sounds like a pretty big social good to me. Now I'm in my early 40s and hope to retire in a few years.

Or, you could fail to properly value your work, give it away for free and depend on someone else to employ you until you turn 65.

Your problem: a solution in search of a problem (2)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about 2 years ago | (#39615009)

Open source is a solution for certain problems. You're coming at this from entirely the wrong end, trying to find some reason to apply a solution that certain people like without identifying some reason to do so. Don't do that. If you have a reason to open source it, do. If you don't, don't.

Revenues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39615101)

Basically sanest strategy is:
- Basic (open source) + Enterprise edition (including support).
- Provide some kind of a service based on software (access to data / analytics).

A lot depends on what your product looks like, which industry, who you target. Without more details it's hard to tell.
But basically what you want to do is use Basic(Open) Edition as a bait for users to convert for paying customers.
You want to provide basic documentation, making barier of entry as low as possible, but keep advenced options paid only.

confidence, trust, gratitude and expertise (4, Insightful)

lkcl (517947) | about 2 years ago | (#39615119)

the key here is confidence in yourself.

the guy who created ruby on rails makes his living by touring the world doing talks, lectures and training on the software that he is the world's leading expert on: ruby on rails. everyone knows that if you want advice on ruby on rails, you go to him, because he is the one that a) wrote it and thus b) has the best working map of the entire software base in the electrical memory (immediate recall) of his brain c) has the ready-to-go speeches and documentation-drone sentences down pat and *also* in the electrical memory of his brain

(chemical memory is where long-term memories are stored: they're harder to get at. you know the phenomenon. can't quite remember something, but 1 minute later or usually after a good night's sleep "bingo!" - that's chemical memory).

the main thing to remember about the free software business model is that it is a *gratitude* business model, not a "desperation / control / last resort" model. as in: when comparing free software to proprietary software, you buy proprietary software out of desperation because there *isn't* any alternative free software, knowing full well that you will get screwed, locked-in and your entire data is now hopelessly entangled in the relationship with the vendor of the proprietary software.

by contrast, you know that, with free software, the person you're entrusting your data to does *not* have you at their mercy. you notice in the posts above - the ones that have been marked as "interesting" and "informative" - they all are variants on keeping the customer entirely at your mercy, so that they *have* no choice but to come to you. that's not really good for you, or for them. apart from anything, it assumes that you _will_ be available for the rest of your life to serve at their pleasure!

so, contrary to expectations, anyone who uses your [free software] product actually *knows* this, and makes a *deliberate* and conscious decision to contact you and offer you some money for a support contract, knowing full well that you _could_ have gone the proprietary route... and didn't.

in other words, you get a better class of customer; the relationship is entirely different; you are *not* beholden to each other - each of you can walk away at any time... i could go on, but you see how it's just generally a much healthier way to do business?

all it takes is that you trust people, and have confidence in yourself. if people like what you've done, and it's actually useful, you stand a chance of making money regardless. if they don't like it, or it's not useful, then... well... they've done you a favour by not having you waste any more of your life on useless software, haven't they? in which case you could go do something more productive :)

No to Open Source (2)

autocannon (2494106) | about 2 years ago | (#39615155)

Look, you indicate you have a fully functional framework system that's prepared to go out the door. People need to purchase this. You have zero need to open source anything here. All that does is give exactly what you've done to the very people who may want to use it. What you definitely need to do is set up a trial or limited features version. Something that everyone and anyone can get their hands on very easily to justify whether it will come close to meeting their needs. Publish a very thorough API documentation to go along with it, as well as any other pertinent documentation the end users may need.

But open source? No way, not if you want to remain a company with a unique product in the next few years.

Don't open source (4, Insightful)

bhlowe (1803290) | about 2 years ago | (#39615271)

Unless there is a compelling reason to Open Source your product (maybe you're looking for your users to modify and expand the product?) I would not definitely not open source it. Why choose a business model that puts "profits to pay the developers" at the bottom of the priority list? The list of profitable small to medium sized open source projects that produce a very good profit is small.

As a developer, you have a limited number of productive years, before family, lack of time, and brain cells makes you overpriced and uncompetitive. Global outsourcing will make this worse. You owe it to yourself to make a bundle of money now so you'll have something to pay off the house with and retire on. And besides, software becomes obsolete quickly, so if you think you'll make money eventually if its "free" to start, you're kidding yourself.

Just today I tried 3 "free" programs to do the simple task of merging mp3 audiobook files together.. they all sucked. I then spent $10 on one and it worked like a charm on the first go. The number of profitable companies that don't give away their entire product is vast. If it is worth something, charge for it. Willing buyer, willing seller. There should be a name for this concept.

Re:Don't open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39615329)

Capitalism?

Make money (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39615361)

my buddy's step-mother made $13645 the previous week. she has been working on the laptop and got a $340600 home. All she did was get lucky and try the advice written on this website (Click on menu Home more information) http://goo.gl/we6wR

Open it once you reach a certain point (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#39615403)

You could say "after we've reached $X, we'll open source it. Those who pay now get exclusive access to each upgrade ahead of it's open-sourcing.
Once it's open-sourced, you live out of donations/support/SaS.

Paying support+warranty is important for some (corporate) clients though.

A little more clear for OSHW (1)

WrecklessSandwich (1000139) | about 2 years ago | (#39615467)

I'm working on an open source hardware project (robotics dev board) right now, and the conclusion I've come to sadly means I'm not technically eligible to use the OSHW logo on my design. CC licenses are great for OSHW, but what the consortium doesn't like is that I'm defending myself by using a -NC clause. It lets me share the hardware schematics, driver code, etc. openly, but I'm protected from someone with more cash on hand cloning my design at larger volume for profit.

Framework? (1)

lucm (889690) | about 2 years ago | (#39615637)

Again with the frameworks... The only thing I kinda like with the Apple Store is that it gives a focus on applications so developers have an incentive to build something that does something.

Unfortunately lots and lots of startups and open source projects are still spending cycles on yet another framework instead of creating actual value. This is not a problem that is specific to startups however - even in-house IT developers tend to spend time on frameworks and libraries if management or architects are not cracking the whip properly.

To make a long story short this is a symptom of what is wrong with IT:
-Sysadmins tend to make rules that are preventing business to optimally leverage hardware and software that has been paid for
-DBAs tend to value theoretical constructs (such as 3NF) before actual software or business requirements
-Developers tend to write frameworks and libraries instead of applications that bring value to the business (expecting that other developers will use those frameworks to create applications, which does not happen because the other developers also work on frameworks)

This is why people that can "align IT with business" are making the big bucks.

Stop being so fucking full of yourself (0)

Linegod (9952) | about 2 years ago | (#39615753)

Stop being so fucking full of yourself, and you may have a change.

If your project is actually rock star quality, open source or proprietary won't make a diffence.

Now let's get back to your 15ms of fame.

I only use open-source frameworks (1)

ghn (2469034) | about 2 years ago | (#39615793)

We don't know much about your product, but you hint at a "framework". This is a different kind of software, one that will be used by other developers to directly build upon. A free, fully open and documented framework, no matter how good, has very little chance of success, as there are already so many competing frameworks. Now imagine the chance of success a proprietary framework has.... unless you are Microsoft, I don't see how anyone could do this.
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