the elusive open source business model

In some cases, dominant technology companies have used open-source projects as pawns. Google, for example, has needled Microsoft by providing financial support to the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, which oversees of the development of Firefox. I.B.M. has been a major backer of Linux, helping to raise it as a competitor to Microsoft’s Windows and other proprietary operating systems.

Many of the top open-source developers are anything but volunteers tinkering in their spare time. Companies like I.B.M., Google, Oracle and Intel pay these developers top salaries to work on open-source projects and further the companies’ strategic objectives. – New York Times.

There are four important views of open source:

  1. stallmanThe views of big companies like IBM and Oracle that make money from open source – as a tool for diverting money from competitors and evading anti-trust rules
  2. The views of companies like Sun that lose money from open source -  as a key part of the underwear gnome business model.
  3. The views of programmers who embrace open source as a substitute for a coherent political point of view or a union or something.
  4. The views of some engineers who see it as a way of getting low cost marketing of their work.