Corporate bloggings 2

Jonathan Schwartz, which I mentioned in previous blog entry, seems like a guy with clue, at least when says “Free Software Has No Pirates.” Some stockholders told him, when they were putting Solaris into Open Source, “What? Sharing? Free Software? What’s up with that! Go make some money!” to which he responds once and for all, why they are committed to sharing, to open source, to open standards.

Because we’re going to make more money.

How? It’s trivially simple. Why do carriers give handsets away for free? Because they make money on the subscription necessary to receive the handset. Why do banks give away free checking, or free credit cards? Because they acquire new customers. Why do Google and Yahoo! give away free search? Because there’s a fortune in the end result.

So why on earth would we give our OS away for free?

Because it’ll ensure those without the economic wherewithal to pay for it will still consider using it. Companies that suffered from piracy a decade ago now know the lesson well – piracy is a good thing so long as the pirates are folks who could never afford your products. So stop calling them pirates, call them users. Free software has no pirates. As I’ve said forever, there’s value in volume, even if you’re not paid for it.

Do I worry about enterprises or corporate customers taking OpenSolaris and not acquiring a subscription to someone’s (hopefully our) service contract? No, not in the least. Do you really think a hospital, or an air traffic control authority or a Minister from an African nation would run their institution on unsupported software? No. No way.

Are we guaranteed to get that business? Nope. But we are guaranteed the opportunity will be greater than if we kept Solaris locked up. And I’d rather get 20% of a business that’s planetary in scope, than 100% of a business with 17 customers. Like I said, there’s value in volume. (And I haven’t even touched upon the impact of open sourcing on innovation.)

Which basically is the essence of Open Source Economics. It’s more about being Open than it is about only the Source code.