11 novembro 2013

Reality of Open Source Users in Mobile and Cloud Era

- "I built my Android app entirely with Open Source products, both in the app, and in the backend server running on Amazon. I'm charging US$ 1,99 for it in the Google Play Store" 
- "That's wonderful! Where is the source code of your app? Have you contributed back to these Open Source products? Will you release your product as Open Source?"

In this new era of Cloud Computing and Mobile apps, there's an increasing number of for-profit products that takes advantage of Open Source products, but barely contribute anything back to them, either by buying support, or non-expensive things such as reporting bugs, fixes, or helping documentation. Developers are building SaaS applications for Salesforce.com, or Mobile apps for Android and iOS devices, and usually charge for these. Of course, they want to make money as anyone else.

Whenever I ask someone that makes money with _their_ software built on top of Open Source, if they will ever release the source code, they usually answer: "my case is different". Well, why is your case different? Why can't I buy your app from Google Play Store, and still access the code on GitHub? Or build it on my own, customize it, etc? That's the point of Open Source, right? Wrong, in their minds.

Majority of software developers actually tend to think that Open Source is free as in free beer. And that's it. No matter how hard you try to explain otherwise, the industry will almost always see Open Source software as free software. And due to the new way to sell software, I really think that Mobile apps and Cloud SaaS/PaaS offers will, sooner or later, kill good Open Source softwares, and leave this space only for conceptual and initial implementations for Open Standards and APIs, or for general use and development platforms and languages such as Java, Ruby, etc.

Perhaps you want to read Will Cloud kill Open Source? Is the Future Open Standards? Your thoughts are welcome :-)
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