Software Companies Realizing The Benefits Of User Exchanges

from the if-their-lawyers-don't-shut-it-down dept

Proprietary software companies are still experimenting with “open source-like” offerings to try to improve their own products. A few months back we wrote about the software cooperative idea – which was basically open source software for companies that only members could share. Since it cost $30,000 to become a member it was more like open source with a $30,000 entrance fee. Meanwhile, many proprietary software companies have been doing quite well setting up “user exchanges” where their end users can trade modifications and add-ons to their software for free. The companies that do this have found it beneficial in many ways – since they get a core group of loyal users who are generating improvements on their software. However, many companies are apparently shying away from such exchanges, worried that (a) they’ll detract from commercial add-on development or (b) it opens them up to legal liability if such a third party add-on causes problems. The companies that rely heavily on these exchanges (including IBM, Adobe and Macromedia) insist they’ve had no problems – and that the benefits have been well worth it. This is yet another case where some companies realize the value of something that’s “free” when it’s viewed as an input resource, rather than an end-product.

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