I just read Bjorn’s note comparing doughnut stores to open source businesses. From what I hear that note probably made more an impact on Canadians that it did others. For some reason, we’ve rallied around the doughnut as our national past time and our waste-lines are paying the price!
At any rate, I totally agree with his assessment. My spin on it, you can make money by packaging up open source and selling priority support for it, and you can make money by taking open source and customizing it for a small vertical market. Certainly we at QNX are doing the second, taking Eclipse and customizing it to work well for developers writing applications for our operating system.
Another analogy I thought of also has to do with Tim Hortons. After Wendy’s (the burger Wendy’s) merged with Tim Hortons you started seeing a lot of Wendys and Timmy’s co-located in the same restaurant. So the analogy could go that people love doughnuts. So when the come to Tim’s and get their fix, they see the Wendy’s there and decide to stay for lunch.
So what I’ve also seen vendors do is package Eclipse as a sort of loss leader to get people interested in their higher margin products. My recent blog on the JTAG vendor Ronetix is an example of that. And I think we’ll see a lot more as well as Eclipse becomes ubiquitous (2.27 million users!). Vendors will find they have to play the Eclipse game just to keep up with the Jones.