Belief and open source

As a business model, in other words, open source remains incomplete. While the machine runs great for enterprises who know they have IT budgets, its utility is limited for consumers, artists, and small businesses who need income, not just a cut in expenses, to make it through the day.

Mark Asay writes that he believes in open source, because it works, and because it follows economic dicta. (Photo by Peter Cunningham for WordWiseWeb.)

I don't believe in open source any more than I believe in science. Open source a process, which reveals its truths in the market. What works survives, and what doesn't work fails. True for businesses, true for concepts, and true for economies overall.

Right now open source is working great for enterprises. Is it working for consumers?

There the results, so far, are mixed. Sure we have Google and other Internet companies built on an open source platform. But would they not exist if they were built on a proprietary platform?

Google and the other providers of Internet services also demonstrate the big problem with open source for consumers. They cut prices to zero, but they also take value from our contributions to the Net. (See my tax return for one example out of millions.)

Even the promise YouTube has made to start paying its contributors will deliver them a tiny fraction of the value Google gains, and it's not a negotiation.

Open source is doing even worse in the desktop market. Apple and Microsoft are eating our lunch there. Sure, there are great open source applications like Firefox and Open Office, but where's the business model going?

As a business model, in other words, open source remains incomplete. While the machine runs great for enterprises who know they have IT budgets, its utility is limited for consumers, artists, and small businesses who need income, not just a cut in expenses, to make it through the day.

That's what the market is saying right now. If you don't agree, prove me wrong. Science and the market are like that, because belief is not the basis for either.

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