Jerry Maguire on the future of the free software industry

Suddenly, it was all clear. The answer was fewer clients. Less money. Caring for them and caring for ourselves.

Jerry Maguire

“Fewer clients. Less money.” Sacrilege in a world where the goal is to grow the first billion dollar “open source vendor”. But that chimera that Matt Asay holds a torch for may never come. Free software has a lot of selling points – and the main one is that if your vendor is charging you too much money, you can find a different, smaller one who will charge you less.

That doesn’t mean that the originator of the software can’t make money – knowing the software better than anyone else, and being able to customise the software, is a pretty powerful selling point and a clear path to building a profitable small business.

As many commentators have said (and I agree), support is not a scalable business model. Other smaller, more agile, companies can start businesses around your product, gain expertise, become contributors to your project, and syphon off some of that yummy support and maintenance cash you’re hunting for.

But so what? Free software doesn’t get developed like proprietary software, why should the free software industry look like the proprietary software industry?

Here’s my vision of the future: Smaller businesses. Each with fewer, happier clients. Less money. Lots of them, all over the world.

10 Responses to “Jerry Maguire on the future of the free software industry”

  1. Pingback from Safe as Milk » Blog Archive » Jerry Maguire on the future of the free software industry:

    [...] from my professional site] Suddenly, it was all clear. The answer was fewer clients. Less money. Caring for them and caring [...]

  2. Pingback from 451 CAOS Theory » Is less more?:

    [...] was reminded of this when reading “Jerry Maguire on the future of the free software industry” in which Dave Neary, a consultant and member of the Gnome community, outlines his [...]

  3. Pingback from 451 CAOS Theory » 451 CAOS Links - 2008.10.28:

    [...] Jerry Maguire on the future of the free software industry Dave Neary, Neary Consulting [...]

  4. Pingback from Boycott Novell » Links 30/10/2008: More Adopters of Android, Asia and EU Push for Free Software:

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  5. Pingback from Open Source Business: When Mohamed lives on Mountain | Commercial Open Source Software:

    [...] CAOS Group report “Open Source is not a business model” has been criticized in the blogosphere, saying that it overlooks vendors for which pure open source is providing a tidy revenue [...]

  6. Pingback from 451 CAOS Theory » Christensen’s law in the context of open source business models:

    [...] vendors are continuing to think like traditional companies and perhaps, as Dave Neary recently suggested, they [...]

  7. Pingback from Neary Consulting » Pure software is not the only way to go:

    [...] Jerry Maguire on the future of the free software industry [...]

  8. Pingback from Understanding Design & Computers: How to make money with free software:

    [...] Neary has recently published a series (one two three) of very excellent posts about free software business models (the third one is the best). [...]

  9. Pingback from 451 CAOS Theory » Why there are no billion-dollar open source companies:

    [...] is a suggestion that has come up before (Dave Neary’s post from 2008 springs to mind). As he stated: “Free software doesn’t get developed like [...]

  10. Pingback from L’industrie du logiciel open source devrait-elle ressembler à celle du logiciel propriétaire ? - Philippe Scoffoni:

    [...] originale de cette question remonte à un billet publié en 2008 par DaveNeary et qui est remis en lumière par un article du site 451 CAOS Theory intitulé : Pourquoi n’y [...]

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