Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bryan Lunduke packs his open source business model in for greener pastures

I was quite sad to read that +Bryan Lunduke announced that he was returning to the closed source model for all future development of his products. For those of you who followed it, Bryan has been doing an experiment in open sourcing all of his products and charging only for binaries. While initial response seemed good, donations seem to have tapered off until he could no longer afford to continue under the open source model. 

Some might see this as a failure; as proof that open source simply isn't a viable business model. I don't. I think it shows that there are many challenges to making a living doing open source development including user attitudes, the economy, and niche markets, but I definitely don't think it's a failure or proves that it can't be done.

I'm quite bummed out to see this experiment not take off like we thought it would. Bryan writes good software, has a huge platform to push that software (he's co-host of the Linux Action Show with +Chris Fisher), and pimps the hell out of his stuff.  This result was definitely not from his dedication or hard work.

That said, I think that focusing on the consumer market to make money is a losing proposition. Ordinary users generally won't pay money for software if they don't have to. And if the do have to, then they are generally not going to continually pay money for software they already own. The way forward, IMHO, is the corporate world. Make a product that the corporate world wants, open source it, charge for binaries, and charge for support. Sure, you won't make as much as if you just outright charged for the closed source product but, I believe,  you can make a living off of it.

So good luck in the future, Bryan. You made a good run, did a very cool experiment, and we all will learn from it. The old adage of 'you gotta do what you gotta do' applies here. A man has to feed his family. There's no shame in closed source.

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