Summary of Contributors To Open Source Projects

Today we are experiencing the second generation of Open Source business plans. Some Linux distributions are attempting to imitate proprietary software. Behind their costly box of software or per-seat license is a product that the customer could acquire without charge through other channels. Several strategies are combined to make this work: the development of a brand that is perceived to hold more trust or value than the naked software. The vendor invests resources into certification by proprietary application vendors, who each want to support only a few distributions []. Customers who need support for a proprietary product on Linux thus have an incentive to pay for that vendor's version of Linux. Some support services are sequestered, such as security problem reports or bug patches, so that they will only be available to people who have purchased the costly box and per-seat licenses. If the customer loads the free software on more systems than he's paid for and the vendor finds out, the customer will be penalized by the revocation of his service contract and the withdrawal of security information critical to the continued operation of the software. Perhaps the best name for this business model is proprietary Open Source, in which services are offered but the business is operated in the proprietary box-software model. This business model is essentially antagonistic to the volunteers who have created much of the Open Source software. They weren't out to develop another Microsoft, and they resent the sequestering of service information on their software. It is in conflict with the spirit, but not the letter, of Open Source licensing such as the GPL []. In general, volunteers help the companies they approve of. As the internal experts on Open Source for their employers, they recommend the companies that they approve of. And thus there will be significant challenges to the proprietary Open Source model.

Open-source economics - Wikipedia

The Simple Economics of Open Source - NBER

The strange economics of open-source software - …

Perens formerly served as Senior Global Strategist for Linux and Open Source with the Hewlett Packard Company, and as invited expert on the World Wide Web Consortium's Patent Policy Board. He was Project Leader for the Debian GNU/Linux Distribution, and wrote the Debian Social Contract, a portion of which later became The Open Source Definition.

The emerging economic paradigm of Open Source | …

Perens is Senior Research Scientist for Open Source with the Cyber Security Policy Research Institute of George Washington University. He is series editor of the Bruce Perens' Open Source Series with Prentice Hall PTR publishers, which has published 13 books with all of their text under Open Source licenses.

Perens operates a strategy consulting firm, Perens LLC, which specializes in issues related to Linux and Open Source software.
In the early days of Open Source, its proponents did not fully understand its economics

economics of open source | Open Health News

In the case of a business that wishes to produce software for sale, rather than sell the service of programming or training, Open Source will be a difficult product to monetize.

The Open Source Initiative board is homogeneous, stratified across generations

How can the answer be improved?

A common objection to Open Source is the perception that Open Source development will not be well focused or targeted. People are used to development that is directed by one company in an extremely focused manner, driven by a product marketing process. Some mature Open Source projects do perform their product marketing the way a company would. But while a company generally would develop an overall strategy that drives all of its software development, there is no global planning authority for Open Source, and no overarching strategy followed by all Open Source developers. However, it's an error to ask for such a thing: you can't compare Open Source to a company, it's an entire industry. A central planning authority for an entire industry would indicate something other than an open market. The product marketing for the global Open Source community operates in the way that a capitalist nation operates its economy, rather than the way a company plans its products.

Economics | MIT OpenCourseWare | Free Online Course …

The paradigm by which Open Source does product marketing can be described as a massively-parallel drunkard's walk filtered by a Darwinistic process. First, very many people all over the world develop whatever they want, going in any direction they wish without any central coordination. Out of this process come many potential products that would not interest more than a few other people, some products that are interesting to at least fifty people, and a few products that are interesting to millions of people.