Why Open Source is Good for You

Many ‘Old-School’ companies cling to the — of intellectual property like a security blanket. In the digital age, consumers are sick of it and have all the tools available to get what they want for free when they want it. That’s why it just makes sense to ‘give away’ software to the people that want it. There’s always the consumer who wants more, therefore the Upgrade model will always work.

For those who don’t know, open source software is the tech industry’s real version of the free trial. It allows consumers and businesses to use software that a company creates for free through a general public license (http://ping.fm/rYmnK). That means anyone who wants to can use the product for their own personal or commercial use. The business model usually attached to it is that a company offers a free version of its software and provides paid upgrade options that include more features. Usually the free version has all you’ll ever need to create a great website or program, but every now and then the upgrades are REALLY COOL!

I use open-source software on a regular basis for my business. We create website based on open-source software like Joomla!, WordPress, and Drupal all the time because it SAVES CLIENTS MONEY!! It’s easier for me to sell a client on a $5,000 website that uses much of the same technology as thousands of other websites out there than to create a completely custom app every time (would cost well over $30,000 for even the cheapest of sites).

Not only can I get more bang for my clients’ bucks, but I can also provide them with low cost security and usability upgrades in the future without spending my company resources to build them. It allows us to focus on what makes us valuable to consumers and focus on web design and marketing. Leave the software development to the, well, software developers!

I’ve only described why it works for me (selfish I know). There are many reasons why it can work for the software developers as well. Let’s talk awareness – give something away for free and people find out. They post it all around the web, blogs and news sites pick it up and talk about it. It can even show up on Tech TV shows, the local news, and huge conferences attended by many of the industry’s elite. People love the ‘generosity’ of developers who offer open source, and the more demanding consumer will always pay for the upgrade.

As a business model it makes sense for the developer, the re-seller, and ultimately the end user. It saves money for the latter two and provides good will (and free marketing) for the former. With the amazing amount of choices in the market today, it just makes sense to let the product speak for itself. After all, “if you build it [and give it away for free] they will come”!

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