[TriLUG] Open Source Propaganda

Charles Fischer fischer at 4pi.com
Thu Apr 20 11:34:44 EDT 2006

As a one person image processing software company I choose to go the 
open source route for the following reasons:
1)  Mack Trucks.  Small companies have to compete with large 
companies and the large companies' sales people always bring up the 
question of what happens if the small company goes out of business or 
the main guy gets hit by a Mack Truck.  By using open source software 
the small company can counter that it does not matter (at least as 
much) because the customer has the source code, and the rights to 
have anybody modify it.  Some small closed source companies will put 
their source code in escrow as a counter to the Mack Truck argument, 
but this does not have all of the advantages to the customer as the 
open source counter argument.
2)  Open source has marketing cache.  When engineering customers here 
"Open Source" many relax, because all questions about modifications 
and third party access become mute.  Many PHBs now here "Open Source" 
and think cheap.  Both are good for the open source company and came 
without spending a dime on advertising.
3)  My business model is to make money on customized solutions for 
OEM's, researchers and quality control inspection stations.  Charging 
for the basic software is not a big money maker, nor is it a big time 
consumer.  Support is the biggest time consumer, and being able to 
charge for that time is necessary.  A lot of customers have a problem 
paying $4799 for a software package and then being charged for 
support.  Few customers object to being billed for modifications.

In summary I feel that open source has the ability to level the 
playing field between large and small companies.  PHBs want to know 
why somebody writes open source software for reasons that PHBs 
understand.  My experience with PHBs points to money as the only 
motivating factor for PHBs.  So a small company can use open source 
as a way to penetrate markets that are dominated by large companies 
and make money by providing good service at a better price then the 
large companies.

Good luck
Charles Fischer

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