The IBM DeveloperWorks website has posted a pair of excellent articles about software licences:
Archive for November, 2005
I’m not sure how useful it is to compare the OSS community to the Catholic church, but otherwise the article is a good summary.
Open Source Business Models:
- Brand Ownership
- Media Kit
- Add-ons (Dual License)
* Professional Services
There is also a good wiki which collects information about OSS companies: Open reSource
I personally feel that the Professional Services category is the most common and lucrative, though I don’t have facts to back that up. One of the advantages of open source is that you can simply hire or contract a developer to modify a piece of Free Software to suit your needs exactly. Better yet, you can release those modifications, and all of society gets a benefit. If you think about it, that’s what Red Hat and Novell are doing on a bigger scale: taking OSS software and adjusting it so better fit an enterprise server or a corporate desktop, and adding their changes to the projects so that everyone can benefit.
One of the main reasons Apple hasn’t sold OS X separately from its hardware is because supporting the myriad different devices that are on the market and available to consumers is really hard. Apple gets around the problem by using specific hardware and saving themselves a lot of effort. A retail version of OS X would have to address this issue, at significant cost to Apple. That, in my view, is the main reason why Apple won’t sell OS X by itself. The second reason is that they want to sell their hardware with a markup, and the OS is merely one of the features of the expensive Apple hardware. If Apple sells OS X separately, they’d cannibalize their hardware sales. This second point is merely speculation, but it’s probably true. The third problem is piracy. If you could buy OS X in the store, you could probably get your hands on a pirated version, which you cannot do now. This would probably reduce their retail OS sales, but maybe give them more marketshare (which is only useful if they sell add-on software).
But, ignoring those issues, suppose you could buy OS X in the store, with the two different editions as proposed by Tom. Then your options would be:
- Windows XP Professional - $169
- Windows XP Home - $89
- OS X Pro - $299
- OS X Home - $199
- Ubuntu Linux - $0
Why would anyone in their right mind pay $299 for OS X Pro? What exactly does it offer that WinXP Pro doesn’t? Ok, so maybe you argue that. Better yet, what does it offer that Ubuntu Linux doesn’t? Considering the fact that a “good”, fast computer these days costs ~$500, there is no budget for a $300 OS. A $0 OS which doesn’t limit your freedoms, provides you with perpetual free updates, runs on a wider range of hardware, has more functionality…
From the IEEE Spectrum Nov 2005 “Interface Lift” article: “For example, an application or process not used for a while would become more transparent, seeming to fade away, although still visible. This lets the user forus on the task at hand while maintaining instant access to other software and data.”
Doc Searls has an illuminating article on the future of the Internet as we know it. I suggest you read it.
I think that there is certainly a generational gap here in the US. All the teenagers certainly think of the web as a place: a place to meet people, a place to buy things, a place to go. It’s the older folks that think of the web more as a connection to a service.
I got to see a talk by Gordon Bell about his project called My Life Bits.
The idea is to have a system that records everything:
- webpages (not URLs!)
- phone calls
- paper (scanned)
- trips (GPS data)
All this can go into a SQL database. The next step is to annotate everything (aka add meta-data). This can be done manually or automatically, but it must be done with all data that is saved.
Then you should be able to find anything, anytime:
- by date
- by time
- by type
- by content
Gordon demoed several interesting tools:
- phone photos + GPS: make a “trip”
- add voice annotations to photos (or anything)
- add text annotations to webpages (or anything)
- add “contact” tags within a photo to point to a person
He demoed a “Finder” shell which is basically a SQL client which allows you to organize and find all the things listed above.
- The whole idea of archiving everything is of dubious value. For example, many of the web pages I look at and much of the e-mail I receive is simply not useful enough for me to ever look at again. The same is true for most of the things I read or the things I see on TV. These things are only worth archving if the archiving has no cost, which isn’t true today.
- The photo annotation idea is already in use today by Facebook.com. They let you mark up pictures so that you can tell who is who.
- I wonder how much annotation functionality Picasa, iPhoto and F-Spot include. Can you add text tags to your photos? Voice tags? GPS data?
- As for my e-mail, Gmail already archives all the e-mail I get, and searching it has never been easier.