Is Open Source killing small developers?
Photo by KProgram
What comes to your mind if you ever think of the future of software prices? Experts have often predicted that software in the future will be available for free. One would need to pay just for the support. Brian Gardner's famous WP themes is just an example! This would result in the reduction in business profits of millions of software developers across the globe. One of the prime reasons for this is the Open Source technology. It actually should give all Open Source lovers a reason to smile as most of the software may be available to all for free in the future.
Does this actually indicate the developers to locate new domains to earn money in the virtual world? With the software being available for free on the net, the area where money can be generated is the software support. Not only software, even operating systems would face the same consequence. It will be soon when companies earn their breads through support because it is now common logic to everyone that software is eventually going the open source way to an extent, if not completely as yet. Testimony to this assumption is the presence and emergence of a plethora of browsers, e-mail clients and office suites which play a significant role. Every new morning a new problem and another new solution comes up, the credos for which should go to the Open Source users. OpenChange would be an apt example of how it has been revolutionized.
There may be many a times when there is a need for an extra plug-in or a feature which would be needed to give adequate support. This is where a marketing jargon "Up-selling" comes into play. Wikipedia says
Up-selling is a sales technique whereby a salesman attempts to have the customer purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale.
In other words, "simply exposing the customer to other options he or she may not have considered previously". The Open Source community can take this cue form marketers and try to implement up-selling as the way Red Hat and Fedora have started doing it. Jack Wallen simplifies this as
Red Hat helps to develop Fedora to release to the community for free. This helps to gain both interest and favor of those possible enterprise customers. They try Fedora but long for extra, enterprise-level features. Those same customers realize they can get this with Red Hat Enterprise-level operating systems.
Another possible domain for companies to earn huge profits is Gaming. The gaming market is on an all time high and it is of simple business logic to cash on this opportunity. The tenacity for customers to pay for games will always be more. The gaming industry also acts as a morale booster to the hardware industry to make safer and better products.
Thus, the emphasis is on differentiation. Differentiate your products from your competitors and be sure to earn more revenues. Remember, it is the software support that will yield returns in the future and not the base code as it has been in the past.