By Mrinank Verma
With major acquisitions and major product releases, this year is going by with joys and disappointments all together. The products and services sectors in the current technology scenario are growing side by side helping each other. What on the consumer front seem like short bursts of random tech food, are really products of a long tiring haul by companies.
Some may argue about how major players in the technology business are hosting their shows by themselves rather than congregating together to form a larger group of even more efficient associates. Some may explain that this is after all a business and that is how they keep it simple. With everything converging to closed source, all exclusive stuff, on fronts like Apple, and expansion in the quickly emerging open source community, the future of electronics and software industry seems like a mystery.
Red Hat still being in the list of top 25 companies to work with accentuates the importance of open source community and culture. Moreover, the recent trend of major players, like Microsoft and Oracle, to convert some or part of their projects to Open Source has heightened the excitement in the community.
Who would you choose, the ready to help open source community, working under the hood, providing you with opportunities to mould what they offer in the way you want it by solving problems on your own, or into the closed source exclusive community which simply provides you with multiple, often confusing, solutions to the same problem with tagline of actually being better, because they let you be dumb and choose the options for you by themselves?
Let’s find out what the open source has to offer us in the software technology community. Open Source permits universal access and redistribution of product design and blueprints. What it offers us on the economical front is of equal importance to what it offers us on the intellectual front. Academically it provides for open, and to an extent, abusive development over or use of existing open sourced tools. Economically it reduces cost on many fronts, the significant being the copyright policing, costs of use and support, thus creating a larger market for the same.
There are various models of Open Sourcing and Freeware Redistribution. Creative Commons is an initiative, which provides for rights about the same thus reducing load on the basic copyright machinery.
Some may argue that the Open Sourcing will not bring in profits as much as a complete closed source package would, which is a debateable topic. But, it isn’t so that Open Source projects are not creating revenue. They just follow a different structure of money making altogether. Usually a major part of Open Source development is handled by the community as a whole thus providing for bugs, later development and support without much overheads. A thriving example is the Ubuntu Support System which is completely Community based. The whole community help each other.
But what if you need better help and service. This is where Open Source backers capitalise; the concept of Freemium. An example would be Canonical Inc. which is the company behind Ubuntu and related products. In this model we provide the product at zero cost, sometimes bundled with some basic services for free and then charge for the exclusive services and better support systems. In return for the product comes community support along with publicity, which may later be used for product development and portfolio expansion.
Another example of how major players are shifting their focus to product support and services is how Amazon did it with the Kindle Fire. They open sourced the platform to build upon and provided services and sub-modules to the product at a certain cost. The same strategy is behind how Android earned its place in Mobile OS market, an open source platform to build upon.
I would say that future holds lots of opportunities in the Open Source Software Industry. The need of the hour is to educate people about the benefits of being open source, along with its disadvantages. Open Sourcing is how major players are doing it and how minor players are filling up their arsenals.