Open source – more amazing developments

Have a look at this article on Trolltech.

In short it explains a nice little bit of price (and product) discrimination by which software is developed simultaneously as a proprietory commercial product and as a GPL licenced open source product. This is not particularly new, but I’d not read much about how such an arrangement works. Geek readers will have more to say.

All very exciting I reckon. This idea of parallel tracks of development conjours up ideas of ‘appropriate technology’ and ‘appropriate prices’ for the third world whereby those who come after can benefit from all the innovation that we’re doing and then donating to them. I’m thinking particularly of developing countries of course. A range of large firms are collaborating on a project to build computers for poor countries for US$ 1 per unit.

It shows what’s good about pluralism – about leaving both proprietory and open source software to each help the other. It also suggests what might ultimately become of some of Microsoft’s products. After open source competition reduces their price greatly there are other things that Microsoft can do – like parallel open source and proprietory development, or some other kind of hybrid open source/proprietory model.

It could for instance hold competitions to provide patches and thus immitate open source development with the added advantage of being able to pay people. Though that’s not always an advantage.

All very intriguing anyway.

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John Quiggin
John Quiggin
2022 years ago

I enjoyed this very much.

A fairly general implication of the open-source phenomenon in both software and Internet content is that you can make money, but only by giving away a large portion of the value your work creates – an attempt to capture the entire rent through licensing and so on is futile. Of course, creators are also beneficiaries of the work of others so it evens out in some sense.

But this is a big break from the central idea of economic rationalism where prices play the central role in determining what should be done. In this setup, prices, advertising and so on are contributors to cost recovery.

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

I don’t think you’re right in saying that opensource demolishes the price system, John. If anything, opensource pricing models signal that the desirable product is technical expertise, not software in and of itself.