Open Source (was Don't you just wish Rev would do this?)
lfredricks at proactive-intl.com
Thu Jun 7 13:25:09 CDT 2007
> I'd beg to differ with Lynn that this stuff is only for the
> big boys - like Adobe, IBM, Google or Yahoo. The developers
> of Base Camp have a good business, they build upon the
> developer community they created with Ruby on Rails. They get
> a lot of work. Nor did they need to raise heaps of cash to
> get there. If I had a vote - I'd at least be seriously
> exploring moving over to that sort of model - together with
> dual licensing for companies wanting closed source solutions
> for their customers.
Dave, this mispresents my point. These companies have achieved dominance in
very highly profitable market segments. That is one major, characteristic
difference. The devil is in the details. I don't know the inside story of 37
Signals, just what is available in the press. There are some winning moves
they have made that have given them some prosperity in recent years - there
are some similarities I can see between 37 Signals and Runtime, but a whole
lot of differences too. That doesn't mean those moves are going to be
equally successful for any other company.
There is a lot to like in Open Source software (speaking of which - are you
going to OSCON? I am! :-)) and there is a lot I like about it. But Id like
to draw a funny comparision between Open Source and a phenomenon in business
from the late 70's - 90's when the "west" started to become obsessed with
business success of Japanese corporations.
A number of western company strategists came up with the notion that if they
emulated the superficial, observed behaviors of these companies and their
employees that somehow they would achive greater productivity.
Those few who *really* dug into various methodologies gleaned some benefit,
like Just in Time manufacturing and Kaizen quality perspectives (or had to
come up with competing strategies). Those who dug in further may have
realized what absolutely is not transferable because of the connection
between these methods, Japanese culture, and the international business
climate of the time.
But what struck me as hilarious were those companies that thought having an
entire team soak in a onsen together and drink sake or have morning company
workouts at your desk will somehow achieve some sort of gain.
Now fast forward to 2007. Japan is achiving some economic rebound, but the
machine that seemed unstoppable in the late '80s and early '90s is a shadow
of its former self.
I am very interested in open source. But the problem Ive had to date is
that, there are a great number of companies stuck at that "soaking in the
onsen phase" - most explanations of why open source is good have been
superficial and unconvincing when it comes to general business practice,
though Ive seen some specific, isolated instances where its made great
sense. It isnt obvious that what's good for Adobe is good for Runtime, any
more than soaking in an onsen will suddenly make me more competive with the
Worldwide Business Operations
Runtime Revolution Ltd
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