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We take these open-source truths to be self-evident

By Scott Clark
on October 15, 2009

The logic of open source is increasingly clear to a growing number of businesses. Ironically, however, that logic generally dovetails with a recognition of how to marry open source with a proprietary revenue driver. Once you figure out the scarce good for which customers will pay, open sourcing everything else becomes a no-brainer.

Google, Red Hat, and a wide variety of other businesses have all discovered this. So has Nokia, as Glyn Moody writes:

…Once (Sebastian Nystrm, vice president of application and service frameworks in Nokia’s Devices unit) laid out the logic of moving to open source, there was very little resistance within the company to doing so. I think that’s significant; it means that, just as the GNU GPL has been tested in various courts and found valid, so the logic behind open source–that openness allows software to spread further, and improve quicker, for the mutual benefit of all–is also increasingly accepted by hard-headed business people: it’s become self-evident that it’s a better way.

Sort of. What’s becoming self-evident is that open source is a fantastic way to drive community value, which funnels prospective customers into purchasing proprietary value born of scarcity. Whether Google AdWords or Red Hat Network, it’s the same phenomenon.

In other words, it’s not that businesses have bought into the ideological allure of freedom. It’s that freedom can more efficiently create a large base of prospective customers for something else.

Read the whole article here: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-10375723-16.html