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Showing Mundie the money

A reader says that while some people can make large sums of money with closed-source software, companies spend far more on labor than they do on the software itself.


Showing Mundie the money

In response to the May 17 Soapbox column by Craig Mundie, "Commercial software, sustainable innovation":

What Mundie does not understand is where the money really is.

Yes, small numbers of people can make large sums of money with closed source. However, companies spend far more money on the labor to implement and maintain that software than they do on the software itself. This is where the real money is. These many individuals making $70,000 per year add up to quite a lot more money than those few at the large software vendors making their millions.

Yes, software drives the economy, but the vendors, in reality, are a small portion of it. Then the question becomes more "How do we get more for our labor?" than "How do we keep our purchase costs down?"

The GPL, while not sensible for a company producing shrink-wrapped boxes, does make sense for companies developing in-house systems, as well as services and consulting firms.

The community effort behind the software spreads the effort to reduce costs to individual companies, while the openness ensures interpretability, speed of development, maintainability, and the future of support for the software. Open source is more supportable.

Imagine when WordPerfect was king. It held a near-monopoly position for word processing software. If I had told you then that it would be bought by Corel, which would then go out of business, you would have never believed it. Now you see that this is a real possibility.

What happens to our support now, if we have, over the years, standardized on WordPerfect, and they do go out of business? If this were an open-source product, someone else could pick it up--if it were profitable enough. And if not, we could support it ourselves if it was important enough.

Grant Johnson
Aurora, Colo.