Open source is a response to software market failure.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, PC software was dominated by one company: Microsoft.
Rivals couldn’t successfully sell alternative applications in the face of Microsoft’s monopoly power. Start-ups could get neither market traction or access to capital to grow their businesses.
By doing away with prices and distributing online, open source undermines Microsoft’s marketing and bypassed normal channels.
But developers need to eat. Free doesn’t buy much food.
Today Microsoft is no longer dominant. And thanks to Apple’s iPhone app store, which now extends to the iPad, individuals or small teams of developers can easily enter the software market.
With other companies also offering app stores, we are about see a thousand flowers bloom.
There will be app store millionaires. But more importantly there will be many developers who can now use their skills to put bread on the table.
The bazaar now challenges the cathedral.
But with developers able to make a living from their art, they will have less time and even less motivation to work on open source projects.
Some will survive on idealism, but if a developer has a bright new idea tomorrow, do you think it will see the light as a giveaway or as a $0.99 app store download?