Open source has yet to learn it pays to advertise

Open source has yet to learn it pays to advertise

Summary: Open source is making people money. It's helping people build brands organically. But even organic processes need a little fertilizer.

TOPICS: Open Source

your ad here, from Ad:tech Chicago blog 2007The latest Microsoft move to upset open source advocates is word the giant of Redmond is helping sponsor the open source census. (Picture from the AD:tech Chicago blog.)

Oh noes, says Matt. Is it a conspiracy, asks Dave? Are they trying to mess with teh results, asks Mike?

What makes this funny is the first time I read this story, on Matt's blog, there was a Microsoft Live Search ad next to it. Last time I checked Dave Rosenberg's shop, there was an ad for a Dell laptop, doubtless running Windows.

Yet Alfresco is doing well. Mulesource is doing well. What gives?

In fact the census has a number of sponsors who aren't Microsoft. We have a lot of advertisers who aren't Microsoft. Trouble is, there aren't enough in any case.

There are many open source companies, especially in the enterprise space, which are making good money these days. Michael Tiemann's employer, Red Hat, comes to mind.

Why is it that all these open source news sites, blog sites, and resource sites are still being sponsored by Microsoft?

We have no choice. Their checks don't bounce. And many open source companies have yet to open the money spigot.

Now I understand that, in an open source business model, marketing is among the functions that gets hit. But we're no longer at the brother-can-you-spare-a-dime stage of development.

Open source is making people money. It's helping people build brands organically. But even organic processes need a little fertilizer.

I don't work in ad sales, but it seems to me they might start with some targeted buys at selected sites where open source advocates write or just hang out.

You don't have to take 30 seconds on Katie Couric or CSI to make your point. Just some reasonably-priced Web sites, some of which might also be CBS properties.

Hint, hint.

Topic: Open Source

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Companies making money from open source.

    Well, there's Red Hat... and there's Red Hat and, oh yes, I remember, Red Hat.

    There are ways to save expenses with open source, but that's different from making money with open source.

    If a company sells a product other than open source software, then any open source used is a way to avoid the cost of IT (read: staff). If a company provides solutions built atop open source or proprietary software interchangeably, that's not an open source company. If a company, like Oracle, owns open source products, but makes its money from proprietary software, that's not an open source company.

    It's possible to argue that open source as a commercial product has recovered from the stock market collapse about as well as Sun. It's more difficult to argue the alternative.

    You do have a good point, though. Without money for advertising and other forms of marketing, any company will not turn into a $1+ billion leviathon. Which is necessary in a consolidating/consolidated industry like software.
    Anton Philidor
    • Probably a pointless venture to comment..

      I do have to wonder if you are really that myopic when it comes to modern business, IT & reality.

      Ever hear of Google, Novell/Suse, Yahoo, Akami, or Tivo, TomTom, Cisco etc & all the other ODM's & OEM's that do embedded. Or other service companies like Alfresco & Zimbra etc. The list goes on & on

      Saving expenses, can be more efficient & increase the bottom line and can make more profit (both monetary & systemic)

      It is not just avoiding IT expenses (paying unnecessary tribute to monolithic Corp) (read: who outsources work to developing nations where they don't have the same restrictions, taxes, costs, & staff) It is just utilizing more efficient & profitable resources locally.

      If I code for a companies that supports GPL and/or OpenSource, I still get paid. And still able to use that code or idea elsewhere.
      If I administer systems for a companies who uses GPL and/or OpenSource systems, I still get paid...
      In either case I get paid for my knowledge, experience & time. Whether OpenSource or not.

      What OpenSource Product does Oracle Own?

      Not all Companies are one or the other, but the more successful learn how to integrate, utilize and truly innovate.

      What kind of world would it be today if you could magically make OpenSource & OpenSource ideas disappear?

      To Dana's Blog
      More marketing would help but the vast majority of Linux is not Marketed or Sold, so that is secondary to just being available in the same common channels.....Parity....
      • Yes, giving away softare to sell hardware or services

        can help generate income. But then so does giving away a cup of coffee at Krispy Kreme. Doesn't mean the coffee has deep value.
      • Speaking of Google, have tehy published

        their changes so they can repay the community for all the free code? No huh...
        • ...

          Still haven't figured out how to edit your posts? ]:)
          Linux User 147560
        • You are clueless.

          Google repays over and over, Google Earth, Picassa, seamless Linux clients now. They sponsor summertime Open Source projects, they give back fixes, the list goes on and on. They don't have to give anything back. GPLed code is free, in all ways, few strings attached (keep copyright, don't try to steal it). Redhat does the same, IBM does the same, Novel does the same.

          You get it, you just don't like it, and lame attempts to disenfranchise GPL developers with "their code is stolen so XYZ can make megabucks" falls on deaf ears. Anyone who writes GPLed code knows it's free (as above). Amazingly, those that don't want to create free code, don't!

          On your free coffee analogy, do you think the "coffee" has no value to Google, IBM, Cisco, Tivo, Motorola, Asus, again the list goes on and on.

          Can you imagine is Google had to MS for it's servers? I suspect that no business like Google could survive having to run that many MS servers. From a technological point of view, except for a few MS sponsored attempts, all the new supercomputers run Linux.

          I can understand your problem though, you rely on MS for a living (and that's fine), but you need a new line of attack.

          Microsoft Free, One Year Later

          [B]Open Office worked remarkably well both receiving Microsoft Office files and creating files in Office format. I exchanged literally thousands of documents between Microsoft Office and Open Office. I never encountered a single issue with Word and Excel and occasionally encountered minor formatting issues with Power Point files.
          you can point to this post when people claim that Linux and Open Office just won't work in the work place. I have validated that they do work for over 365 days now.

          Hmmm, I suspect blogs are indeed a form of advertising?
      • But none of those mentioned

        beyond Novell (which had an income and was established before it got into OSS) that makes money directly from Linux / Open Source, they instead make it off of:

        Cisco/Tivo/TomTom: Harware. OS just runs the equipment, the money comes from the sale of the hardware.

        Google/Yahoo: (Saving expenses) the money comes from the [i]services[/i] run on OS, not from the sale of OS.

        It may be hard for a pure FOSS company to generate any type of meaningfull income right off the bat (to pay developers, advertise, ect) like a proprietary company can/does. If your 1st 2000 people take the free download without support, you're allready behind the proprietary company that got paid X ammount of money for it's 1st 2000 sales.

        And if they use that money to advertise their product, more trouble for the OSS guy.

        Not saying it's impossible, I'm just saying it may be harder, and therfore not done extensivelly.

        Even IBM only advertised Linux for an extreammly short period time, and they can afford pretty much anything.
        • I disagree

          [B]Cisco/Tivo/TomTom: Harware. OS just runs the equipment, the money comes from the sale of the hardware.[/B]

          Barring quality/stability/flexibility considerations, licensing proprietary OSes eats into/increases your cost.

          [B]Google/Yahoo: (Saving expenses) the money comes from the services run on OS, not from the sale of OS.[/B]

          Does it matter whether you save upfront costs or behind the scenes costs, it is still savings. With an estimated 500K servers...

          Does anyone see Google existing having to send 100k x $10,000 (cals, etc) or $1B per quarter MS's way!? How many MSCEs would be needed.

          I think the old model of selling doesn't apply. Open Source allows you to sell your products without the high entry costs. Directly (Tivo, costs less and flexible with OS) or Indirect (Google exists), OS is making folks a LOT of money. The biggest problem for the MS enabled ecosystem, the money isn't going through the normal channels.

          • I think you miss my point

            Up front/back end, it's all perspective and forever argued. Whether you use Windows or Linux, both have shown to save people money. and what someone uses has no bearing on with the article.

            He was asking about advertising. Why should Google need to advertise they use Linux (or another company that uses Windows,) as it's invisable to the end user who never sees it, just web pages.

            What I was saying is that it may be tougher to get advertising dollars when your revenue is based on those that buy the [i]support[/i] vs proprietary where it comes from those that buy the [i]softawre[/i].

            I'm talking about a company that writes OSS, not a company that just uses it.
          • Fair enough (nt)

  • RE: Open source has yet to learn it pays to advertise

    Your a tab bit off the point.

    It does not pay to just advertise.

    It may pay if you know how to Market and to it just right.

    Tech people don't know how to Market!
  • RE: Open source has yet to learn it pays to advertise

    Funny those damn MS ads show up on CNET and ZD blogs (I
    am looking at one now on this page.) It kinda makes me
    wonder if they like the abuse, or just don't know
    • Ads?

      I haven't seen a third party website add in years? FF + Adblock Plus + Adblock Updater.

    • They bought the space, will you?

      Honest, Dave, there are a lot of open source companies who now make enough money to buy the ads on open source resources needed to keep those resource humming along.

      After all there has yet to be consolidation in this space. Wouldn't you prefer to be the consolidator to the consolidatee?
  • We are talking desktop here, really.

    IBM, Novel, Redhat, etc, they all advertise heavily in the server area, and Linux is front and center. This is generally not mainstream advertising since few people watching "So you think you can dance" are in the market for 10K blade servers.

    On the desktop, for those who can really capitalize (the OEMs, pre-configured, complete software bundles), well, they are generally tied to "XYZ recommends Vista Home Premium" through advertising kickbacks. Acer is the first to publicly, and explicitly state their disdain for MS and is going to start pushing Linux hard. We'll see where that trend leads.

    Now, if Dell could, with no repurcussions, sell a highly tweaked, complete install with virtually no need for any extra's for the same price or less than a stock Windows install, mainstream, I think they would.

    Now, and this opened my eyes, 42 commercial games (i.e. not open source, Medal of Honor, Neverwinter Nights, etc) are all advertising Linux now. It seems that games are not going to be locked to Windows for the long haul.

    Esepcially since my $300 emachine with Home Barely that now runs Linux does 89 FPS @1920x1200 with Planet Penguin Racer (the open source version of Tuxracer).

  • I too Disagree. But it is a matter of Perspective.

    And how you choose to define the variables....

    SuSE was a Commercial product before purchased by Novell.... And Novell pretty much made MS in the then emerging network market only to be later submarined. (If speaking just Linux not to forget Mandrake/Conectiva/Lycoris ~ Mandriva,
    or Corel~ Xandros, or Lindows/Linspire, or TurboLinux, etc)

    There are dozens if not more "OpenSource" OSes.
    Linux may be the most popular & common, because of the GPL. (Known, Both from a user & developer standpoint) But also the BSD's, Darwin, Mach, Minix, Hurd, Haiku, OpenSolaris etc and even what is or was considered the most used & common OS, ITRON. (or the TRON's)

    Anyway Hardware does little if nothing without Software. (or Firmware) Consider a hard or optical drive, routers/switches And other components & appliances. TV's, DVD players, Microwaves, autos etc.....

    Then there is the Internet/Web.
    Not Called OpenSource, (yet for a time embodies the idea.) Forward facing; Google, Ask, Yahoo etc or Backend like Akami., their Infrastructure is based on OpenSource.

    I am not sure if their is such a thing as a "Pure FLOSS company" As current ideologies tend to put them at odds. Yet Apple , MS, Sun etc use FLOSS as needed.

    I do remember those enigmatic IBM Linux Ads of '02~04..... But really for me, it was/is been word of mouth, actual use (& sales) and the Web, not marketing that drive OpenSource/Linux use & utility. If you know how

    Again I ask what would the world be without Open Source & those Ideas?
    What would it be like if you could get a Linux machine at Office Depot, BestBuy or Walmart?
    • Maybe my mistake... response to 1.1.3 "But none of those mentioned"..

      by: Pliny the Elder

      Whoops...I was sure I seleceted Reply to message... is there an edit for that?
  • 1 for Dana!

    You got it right on.

    I hope people will listen.
    Vadim P.
  • RE: Open source has yet to learn it pays to advertise

    Google was built on Linux. It never sold any open source software or anything. Just cut down their costs tremendously because of the better TCO then other setups would have had.

    This problem here is that the dogma starts to develop like "open source" is insta-guaranteed-success-magic sold in tin cans.

    The tendency the last years is that every IT manager wants you to find ways to cut costs, while giving better services. The GNU/GPL software are just tools that enable you to improve your TCO and ROI.

    PS: Those MS advertisements on this site are awkward indeed and not "Ad Valorum" in any way.
  • Mouth to mouth

    Do not underestimate the power of the satisfied user


    And, give people who want to pay the freedom too. With open source it's possible to sell support, and advertise for good support, and get customers who pay for proper support. In stead of selling crap closed source with marketing and not offering ant good support, since they have to save money...

    Opensouce can offer a better business model, people who need support will pay for it if they know they get the right support.

    And then again, good support will be marketed by word of mouth.