Savio Rodrigues of InfoWorld tries to parse what makes open-source buyers tick, and how to generate more of them. In so doing, he suggests that the real battleground is over those enterprises with both money and expertise to go it alone with open-source software (so-called "Category B" customers).
Why should they bother buying support when they can self-support?
For me, this isn't the right question. Using his MySQL-derived customer classification system, the real question is, "Can proprietary software serve Category A (companies with more time than money) at all?" and "Can open source more efficiently serve Categories B and C too?"
Implicit in Rodrigues' reasoning is, I think, a belief that if the software is proprietary, A, B, and C companies will all eventually just say, "Aw, shucks. I've got time/expertise/money, but what does it matter, I just have to pay anyway!" So the vendor cleans up on all three.
In fact, my own experience suggests that B companies buy less and less proprietary software (E*Trade is an example). Ditto goes for B, and C companies are willing to pay, anyway, so where is the conflict with open-source business models?… Read more