Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Open Source Business Model - Part I

Open Source Software is the most disruptive business model in tech industry in the last decade. Still there are lot of myths, confusion, skepticism around it among developers,enterprises, software companies, channel partners etc. That includes me too. This is true especially when we see an Open source company clocking double digit growth in recession (Redhat) whereas another behemoth opensource company fails(Sun).So in an attempt to better understand opensource I am planning a series of blogs profiling opensource business model, its strategies, weaknesses, commercial open source companies, community opensource projects in the coming days. This blog is part 1 of the series. Here I introduce what is publicly understood agreed definition of Closed Source and OpenSource business model

Any computer software that is available with its source code in public is termed Open Source software. Where as proprietary or closed source software doesnt come with its code and the developer/company who came up with the software usually retains the source code and doesnot share it with the public.

The closed source model has been greatly successful for decades and is still the by and large the main business model in software industry. The general practice is, any company which creates the software, charges a premium for buying/using it. This doesnot include support,training, upgrades. It might charge for the additional services but the software as such comes with a price tag and without source code. Any patch or bug fixes will be done by the company that created the software because the source code is not shared.

Whereas a typical Open Source company doesnt usually charge for the product and it gives it free. So what is the revenue source for the company...? It charges for the documentation, bug fixes, and other attached services like system integration.

In the upcoming blog posts I will further deep dive into the OpenSource Business model which covers the licenses, community based development, revenue stream, Opensource Enterprises, etc.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Write-Up published in Rediff.com

Rediff.com recently published my write-up about iPad. It is available here. I am also pasting it below...

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Apple's other iProducts are usually an improvement over existing products in that category and usually revolutionises the way people use them. A good example is the iPod which was not a brand new product in that category but it changed how people use it as part of their lifestyle. iPhone too is a good example.
But iPad's story is different. Though there are tablets/ handhelds/ pdas/ gaming consoles/ MIDs/ ebook readers already available, this machine doesn't fit any of the categories. It is a new product and is trying to create a new category of its own with all the above usages in mind. The usability and satisfaction should be seen in that context. In this regard, Apple's bold decision to introduce a new product is welcome.

It is a fine product just as any other Apple product. But there some quirks that needs to be mentioned.

One good example is how to hold this device? Whatever is the target purpose of this new device, either gaming or ebook or business device, the lack of a good holder/ handle to hold the device is a big disappointment. With a device of this size and with the glossy finish, I would have expected a way to hold the device safely, especially when the target audience of this device is frequent travelers.

Lack of camera, less pre-installed apps, flash are few other concerns.

Other major concern is Apple's proprietary attitude. The processor is Apple's own, OS is iPhone OS, app store is again totally Apple governed and the list goes on. If Apple expects it to be adopted widely, it sure might want to think about opening up some of these areas should not be hurting.

Otherwise this product looks awesome and might be a hit in India [ Images ] too. But wait, what I am saying? Apple had its flop products too.

-- Balaje Sankar, 28, Minneapolis, US


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