Open Source for the “R” Word

RWW features a story about DimDim, which is an open source web-conferencing platform. I’ve used it and it compares well with the various proprietary systems around. RWW talks about DimDim’s three business propositions:

  1. Big company – cut your Webex/GoToMeeting bills by 50% or more
  2. Established online venture that needs online meetings to close sales with end users – no hassle revenue share
  3. Start-up with enough techies, but no cash – use the open source base with normal GPL rules (and thus grow the platform for DimDim and everybody else)

I’ve discussed open source business models a lot on this site, and dug up these 3 basic OS business models from Matt Asay (2004):

  1. Product Proprietary or Commodity Model
  2. Commodity (Brand & Servicing) Model, e.g. Red Hat: make money from your services
  3. Transitional (Pragmatic) Model. The transitional model is focused on solving problems (e.g. MySQL and JBoss) and is open source in the sense that code is open, but may be closed in terms of controlling the development process and the developers.

DimDim’s model would be #2, making money from services, including software as a service, but still remaining open to engage a wider user/developer community to fuel growth. When times are tough (can you say recession?) then cutting costs takes on a higher priority and it will be interesting to see if there is a forthcoming spike in OS adoption.

I’m preparing a talk that I will be giving next month to NRC-IRAP industry technology advisors and one of the themes will be open source business models. I’ll be updating my research and would appreciate any other unique or interesting business models around the use of open source software or OS content. Wikipedia would be an example of the latter, but I’m looking for lesser-known examples. Of course I’ll summarize and publish my findings here.

6 Responses to “Open Source for the “R” Word”

  1. Nicola

    Hi Harold, apologies if this has already been mentioned before but Ubuntu model maybe – there is an interview with Mark Shuttleworth – he invested into this but the interview goes further into the business model – maybe it fits into no 2 ?

    I’m very interested at the moment in open source business models for mobile apps – it will be really interesting to see what models emerge as mobile device usage increases further. Am really excited by this – say you are in a nation / community / area that does not have good pc internet connectivity or you can’t afford a pc but have a mobile device.

    If there are then possibilities to self-author mobile apps using your devices (or persuading your friends/family/colleagues to let you mess around with theirs), it would be great to find a business model for you to be able to provide maybe localised services (such as an open source directory enquiries type thing)?

    Or expand to wider communities by partnering with a larger technology manufacturer or service provider – and persuading them that open source is essential requirement ?

  2. Nicola

    Hi Harold, no I haven’t – it looks really interesting – especially a solar powered one. I’ll look into the site in more detail – I don’t think I’ve 100% got my head around all the different information regarding US wireless spectrum at the moment – but you could see how it could be used elsewhere too.

    I did have another thought actually re self-authoring – at the moment due to screen size it would be quite difficult to do – but I think there are some ways to display the code on the phone’s screen eg

    And/or use a mobile projector (don’t know pricing yet) then providing you have somewhere you can project it onto, you could also collaborate with others to help you write the code.

    If you did not have others around to help physically and you were having difficulties making code work – or just wanted someone to check it, you could maybe use some kind of SMS messaging to text your code to a website where others can reply and you receive that back via text.(e.g. if you were based somewhere in Africa, maybe use a website like AfricaNews community forums or someone like that who already have good understand of mobile issues within somewhere like Africa).

    So, once you have your application and assuming you have been able to successfully test it, I guess then find the way of releasing your application. Maybe using a loan system like Grameen banking to start off but that may not be possible so find a model like one of the 3 you mention above ?

  3. Steve Chazin

    Hi Mark, Steve from Dimdim here. I’d be happy to share more insights into our Open Source business models. I’ve provided my email here and would love to show you what we’re up to.

    Thanks for the post!

  4. Jon Husband

    Will you share your talk with us (or with me by email) ?

    Or is it about issues I probably already either know or understand (I suspect you will be able to judge).

    I have a Meraki router.


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