Subject Re: [IBDI] GPL
Author Ann W. Harrison
At 10:26 AM 2/15/2002 +1100, David K. Trudgett wrote:

> First, you are using the word
>"free" to mean "free of charge". That is not what this subject is
>about. Anyone is free to charge as much as they like for GPL'd
>software. It's just that they're unlikely to make much money doing so
>(Red Hat's doing all right selling their official "boxed sets", though,
>I notice -- so it's not impossible).

There's a volume issue. Red Hat would sell nothing retail if they
weren't already well-known - shelf space is expensive. Just building
the boxes & stuff is expensive - in quantities of thousands, the
cost of the box & docs is about $50. If you can sell the product
for $300-$600, then you can make money, but at that price, a download
begins to be more attractive - even a long slow download.

>Second, you assume that "selling" software is the only way to make
>money from it. This is indeed not the case. Value added services have
>a big future ahead. Even IBM understands this: they intend to make a
>lot of money out of the GPL'd Linux.

If independent developers base their business plans on the practices
of IBM, there won't be any small developers around. Basically, you
can't make a dime on services until you've got a market for your product
and a reputation. Documentation is also a very hard way to make money.
Without documentation, nobody is going to use your product, so you need
to give away documentation to build market & reputation.

>Third, you assume that third parties distributing your software at no
>cost to you is a bad thing. A moment's contemplation should show that,
>on the contrary, it could be a huge advantage.

Sure. It could make you the next new thing - if you don't starve
while the world is beating a path to your door. (You'd think that
something as large as the world would be faster at beating paths ...
the realization that it's not is one of the many many disappointments
of a career in the mousetrap business.)

> >
> > What it really comes down to, is we need to ask the question, who
> > is the typical Interbase commercial customer, and who is the
> > typical Firebird customer (forget the IB/OE, it's a non-starter)?
> > Then determine what are the alternate choices for those
> > customers, and how do we get them to use IB or FB.
>As a matter of interest, why do you want people to use IB or FB? I'm
>not being clever, it's a serious, straight-forward question.

I want people to use Firebird because I believe that software built
on Firebird will be better than software built on other databases and
because better software makes my life better. Take Quicken (please).
There's someone on this list who could build a better, faster, more
useful small company accounting package using Firebird as its data
manager. Maybe that person would spend 18 months living off savings
and credit cards just for the glory if the package had to be released
under GPL. Maybe. For me, glory is even better when combined with
the chance of making a filthy amount of money. I also like working
for entrepreneurial, self-funded, product-oriented small companies
and want to seem Firebird help them succeed.

Stepping off the soap-box now,