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Re: Business opportuities based on Free Software (was: Re: [ox-en] lovely ibm mantra)

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Hi Stefan,
  I've been collating some resources that are relevant to this discussion.
  For your previous post on Open Politics, see
  The relationship of peer producton with capitalism,
  What you are referring to in your discussion is the use by capitalism  of 'externalities', from nature, from the domestic sphere. What is  changing now is that a new externality is becoming dominant,  "cooperation between minds", and second, that the results of such  cooperation are increasingly being formalized through modes of peer  proprety (GPL, CC, etc...)
  I wish I could find it back, but Yann-Moulier Boutang has recently  written an essay about precisely that aspect, with lots of interesting  graphics showing the interplay between capitalism and these various  types of externalities.
  This tendency of thought, the group around Multitudes, very present at  the recent Immaterial Labour Conference, at which I participated, see  here for papers,, and is  one of the main arguments for justifying the basic income, as a return  by capitalism for the free externalities it is based on.
  Various aspects of Open Source Commercialization are collated here  under the tag,
  but once you are there you might also check the tags on P2P-Economics and P2P-Business,

Stefan Merten <smerten> wrote:  -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----

Hi list!

3 months (113 days) ago Michael Bouwens wrote:
  and here's a statement by Sun CEO:
      Peer Production (4): Open Source as a Revenue Model    
      2. Open Source as a revenue  model
 Sun doesn't have a single customer, worldwide, that will run an  unsupported product in their datacenter. Do such customers exist?  Surely. They're called developers. Or startups. Or companies or  economies that want to build their own internal support teams. That's  the target for the Solaris Enterprise System. That's who uses free  software without support contracts. And you're not going to win them  over if you don't provide them with free and open source products. And  if you don't provide them with the technology to use, they'll find  someone else's free products. Opening up the Solaris Enterprise System,  and giving it away for free, lowers the barrier to finding those  opportunities. Free software creates volumes that lead the demand for  deployments - which generate license and\n support revenues just as  they did before the products were free. Free software grows revenue  opportunities. 
Opening up Solaris and giving it away for free  has led to the single largest wave of adoption Solaris has ever seen -  some 3.4 million licenses since February this year (most on HP,  curiously). It\'s been combined with the single largest expansion in  its revenue base. I believe the same will apply to the Java Enterprise  System, its identity management and business integration suites  specifically. Why? 
Because no Fortune 2000 customer on earth  is going to run the heart of their enterprise with products that don\'t  have someone\'s home number on the other end. And no developer or  developing nation, presented with an equivalent or better free and open  source product, is going to opt for a proprietary alternative. 
 Those two points are the market\'s reality. And having reviewed them  today at length at a customer conference, with some\n of the largest  telecommunications customers on earth, I only heard the strongest  agreement. They all, after all, are prolific distributors of free  handsets. 
Betting against FOSS is like betting against  gravity. And free software doesn\'t mean no revenue, it means no  barriers to revenue. Just ask your carrier.

This contains the point that it is possible to create businesses based
on Free Software. I'd like to put ramble a bit about this topic here.

A couple of people are puzzled by the observation that it seems to be
possible to create businesses based on Free Software. May be they
think if the basis is Free everything based on it may not be part of
capitalism also.

I don't think so. The basis of Free Software is Free and this is not
challenged by these businesses who are selling support or security
add-ons to Free Softwre. Thus it is important to emphasize that these
business models are not about Free Software but based on Free

This is a big difference, however. To make this clearer I'd like to
compare the situation with the automobile industry. Their you also
have garages and lots of other support businesses around the product
automobile. However, the product automobile is not Free - and if it
will become Free this is probably to be considered a major

On the other hand there are other well-known businesses which are
based on some free basis. For instance all agricultural businesses
exploit the free abilities of plants and animals to grow and
reproduce. (Yes, I know this is formed over by capitalist aspects but
that's not my point here.) This has been done since the beginnings of

As far as the first comparison is concerned we can see that it seems
normal that one business operates on the basis of another business. In
the second comparison it seems equally normal that there are some free
resources which are exploited by some business. Nobody, however,
expects to be agricultural businesses to not exist just because they
are based on some Free basis.

There is of course a major difference between the two comparisons: The
first talks about a basis given by normal capitalist work while the
second talks about a natural basis. I think there could be examples
where the basis is created by non-capitalist work as well. Two
instances come to mind. The first instance is where the education of
humans is partly done in families. This is non-capitalist effort but
the whole capitalist system is built on it.

The second instance are public goods which are paid for by the state
or some similar institution. For instance streets in many countries
are created by non-capitalist players. Once again capitalism is built
on this type of public goods.

It seems to me that business models based on non-capitalist resources
are not so unusual. May be it could be interesting to explore more of
the differences and similarities here.

      Mit Freien Grüßen


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