Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Another Response to a Grumble Grumble article

Andrew Smith is a brilliant mind concerned with open source. He is also a former classmate of mine so I am quite interested in all of his rants. His latest rant is titled "Whether to make money with software"

Andrew States:
"so by open sourcing your software you, as a business, don’t have anything to gain"

I disagree, take this fictitious example....

I am releasing a client/server game called World of Wormcraft. I will not make money from selling the actual software, in-fact I will give away the client AND the server for free. Completely open source.

I will make money from the millions of people who have a monthly subscription which allows them to connect to my OFFICIAL high broadband server.

Why would I want to release the server as open source? Cant anyone just set up their own personal server? Yes they can.... however their personal servers are not official (and not of the same service quality). Their servers add to my World of Wormcraft publicity, add interest to my game (you can try it out for free), and eventually is a GoodThing (TM) because the game will live on after I stop running the Official Server.

There is a risk that another business will take my server code and start their own high-bandwidth near-official servers. Their competitive advantage over me is that they did not have to spend any money in development. However MY competitive advantage includes being "the brand," having a full working knowledge of the code AND being maintainer of the code (thus v2 is released by me... if my competition releases v2 they have to fork and lose branding). My competition and I will compete based on price and service quality. My service quality will be superior to theirs because of my intimate knowledge of the code and the ability to v2 w/o forking, so if I can match their price I win.

I admit there are a lot of holes in my argument. I am postulating this idea not to be bullet proof, but just to give Andrew the idea that it "can be done and I do have something to gain."

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