What do you recommend?

Cinly Ooi cinly.ooi at gmail.com
Thu Mar 5 15:11:31 UTC 2009

Dear All,

> If we go with b), I'm aware that the product itself will improve and many
>> more people will be more interested in it, which can help us to improve our
>> popularity.
>> However, any other Japanese company (with more resources) could get in, at
>> any time, and sell the support taking us out of that bussiness...
> That is a common fear, and I had that fear for a moment.  Then I realized
> how the GPL protected me from a much larger company.  If LargeCompany
> decided to provide their own version and support, the GPL prevents
> LargeCompany from forbidding their customers from sharing their changes with
> *you*.  Therefore, if LargeCompany adds their effort to your effort, your
> own product and your own services become more valuable to customers that
> know you best.  And LargeCompany potentially creates more customers who want
> specialized services that LargeCompany cannot provide.

All customers are price-sensitive, but in software business this does not
always mean the provider with the lowest price always wins, but the one
providing the most value-for-money wins. Your challenge is therefore to
provide the best value for money.

In my experience, when I pay for open source software, I want the company to
which I can throw all my problem to and they will resolve my problem in a
timely manner. If I have more than one company to choose from, I will prefer
to go to the company that has the most expertise with the software, even if
it is more expensive than the rest but as long as it stays within my price
range. It is virtually always true that the company higher up the developer
tree has more expertise than the one below, therefore, I will always try to
go as high up the tree as possible. After all, if I pay the other party and
they cannot solve my problem, my boss is not going to be happy, since the
company is in exactly the same position it would had been if we just
download the software for free. I am sure I am not alone in thinking this

There are always people who will not pay for your open source software and
will prefer to go without they have to pay. They, by definition, are not
your potential customers. There are always going to be customers that will
always go for the lowest price.

I would say the majority of the medium size companies (those that will be
interested in 'buying' open source software) are competent enough to know
that the expertise of the company they buy from is more important than the
low price.

Take Tiemann's advice and talk to other Japanese companies that has gone
down the open source route. I am sure you will find them willing to advice
you as long as you are not competing with them. I find that open source
people are generally more open then proprietary source people. In any case
there is no harm asking.

Best Regards,
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