The open source cash cow?

Datamation feature an interesting article on potential money making schemes on the back of Open Source development. Surely this has to be one of the more contentious issues when it comes to doing business online.

One of the suggestions that caught my eye was the idea of selling how-to videos. Being someone that is keen to implement open source solutions primarily because my own programming skills aren’t that hot, it really helps if I have as much info on implementation available as possible. The ActivCollab screencast is a great case-in-point.

Just as successful software companies have marketing and customer support sections to keep the ‘great unwashed’ (ie. the 90% of the user base that doesn’t really understand what they are doing) from frustrating the developer community, surely this is a service that can in the long run help open source uptake.

One interesting point in the article that has little to do with making money is the issue of whether one successful open source idea leads to numerous other clones:

"…this has been proven time and time again to not be an issue with any open source project, as the success of such an endeavor comes from the buzz of its originality. clones, anyone?"

Perhaps this is what keeps the open source community so fresh – it’s not easy to rip off someone else’s idea. The better approach is to build on it 🙂

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