Open Source is not a business model

Vicky Brasseur writes:

There is a great number of potential business models, but “open source” is not one of them. It is, instead, one of the many tools that can be employed in order to make a selected business model work as expected. The most common form of employment here for open source is in open core, which is itself just a variation on the freemium model. In this model, the open source is the tool that is used to entice potential customers to come to the company and hopefully to hand over their money for additional features or advanced support.

There has been a lot of noise around in this area about the open source business model- unpaid developers and companies forming commercial licenses around the volunteer work. I agree that the appeal of free software is undeniable. However, your chances of getting someone are next to nil.

The only support you get is through forums. It is great for anyone who loves to tinker with the code or will put up with the inadequacies. I prefer to pay up and get support from established proprietary sources instead. Open source is great and there are some companies who see their role as a “middle-man” to disburse funds for projects they need.

Therefore open source has not, does not, and should not concern itself with business any more than food concerns itself with business. If there is a business that has a business model that is not living up to expectations, and if that business model uses open source as one if its tools, it’s illogical to blame open source for the failure. That business is asking the tool to do all of the work, rather than learning how to use the tool effectively.

This is also relevant.

It will assume more importance in the future as the algorithms proliferate and I can expect the companies to “open source” those products that they can’t derive much value out of.

WordPress is open buy I pay for the hosting to wordpress- partly to support the development and to have a 24×7 customer care. I can’t meddle with the cheaper hosting plans elsewhere.

Open Source principles are good but building businesses around them is fraught with lots of complications.