Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Because...

Author:David Adams
Posted:8/24/2000; 8:53:17 PM
Topic:Next survey: Are you an open source developer?
Msg #:20147 (In response to 20117)
Prev/Next:20146 / 20148

It's virtually impossible to compete with "free" -- even if your product is better and aggressively priced.

I disagree. There are lots of examples where commercial products continue to thrive despite a "free" competitor. Adobe Photoshop is outrageously expensive (for an individual, anyway). The Gimp is a GPL-licensed, free graphics manipulation program which can produce some amazing graphics. It runs on Unix systems as well as Windows. It's "good enough" for most people, yet it hasn't (yet?) threatened Photoshop in the least.

Linux and GNOME form a free, GPL-licensed competitor to Windows and any other OS/UI you can think of. Is the combination realistically threatening Microsoft's profitability? Or Apple's? Or Sun's? Sun actually sees GNOME as an opportunity!

Maybe in time, these products would threaten the established leaders? I doubt it, precisely because of reasons you allude to: developing GPL software promises very little monetary reward, and as such, there is less motivation for developers. And since, as you state, most GPL software doesn't go far beyond what's necessary, I think there will always be room for motivated developers or companies to come up with similar products with such compelling new features that users will pay, regardless of the availability of free versions.

I can see why you are so opposed to the threat that GPLed software might become the only available option, but I think that's an unrealistic outlook, for reasons you have stated yourself.

[dra- minor changes made for clarity @10:59PM Central, August 24, 2000]

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