Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Markl's Thoughts: Shipping Software

I was directed towards an interesting (to me) read the other day, Markl's Thoughts: Shipping Software. I especially like his thoughts on what shipping software means. As software evolves away from "the disks in the shrink wrapped box at (Best Buy/Fry's/Wal-mart)" and more to "just something I don't remember exactly where/how I got", the lines of shipping and delivery are rapidly blurred. As are others, such as what exactly the product you are paying for is. Many Linux distros are based on you paying for support, and access to their central database of software updates. Updates which, like the OS itself, can be freely gotten elsewhere, but which they neatly gather and package for you. You are paying for the convenience of one stop downloading, and integration into their installation tool, and often a little QC testing, or package customizing. Try quantifying a price on the value of that. I've often wondered how businesses will make money with Open Source Software. In my opinion, it is clearly superior to proprietary closed-source offering on many levels, but from a business plan perspective, it has many challenges to be faced. But, even business models and economic theories change over time, just ask Adam Smith!