You Don't Have To Sell Software
from the seriously dept
Sun's approach--at least the way I'm reading it from Jonathan Schwartz's statements, is about making the software totally free and trying to sell support and hardware. This clearly diminishes the value of the products and doesn't offer a mechanism that encourages people to pay for software.It's difficult to see what Rosenberg is worked up about here. Sun seems to be following pretty closely an economically sound approach to a market: using infinite goods (software) to make scarce goods (hardware and services) more valuable. That's a lot more reasonable than using infinite goods to try to get people to pay for more infinite goods. There's no reason why Sun needs to encourage people to pay for software, and there are many reasons why they should not try to make people pay for software.
Yet, for some reason, Rosenberg seems to think that this strategy is somehow damaging to the open source movement:
It also puts an unnecessary burden on the notion of open source--such that if Sun is wrong, everyone else will look wrong too.Why? If, as Rosenberg notes elsewhere in the article, Sun's open source strategy is different than other companies', then such a failure should be seen as a failure of Sun's model, not a strategy of embracing open source. There are plenty of reasons why Sun may (or even is likely to) fail in this endeavor. The Sun brand name has been tarnished. People may not find the hardware or services Sun is selling as providing enough value compared to alternatives (even with the software included). On the whole, it's not clear what's compelling about Sun's offer compared to the alternatives, and that's its biggest challenge. But that hardly reflects poorly on open source software or on the idea of not selling software.