Open source has made a significant impact on the "offline" world of packaged software, but it's arguably having a more important impact on the web world. In the latest sign of the importance of openness to development in a SaaS world, eBay announced that it wil be opening up its Selling Manager auction tool to outside developers:
"Opening eBay.com directly to third-party applications through the Selling Manager gives developers an immediate channel to growth-minded eBay sellers," [An eBay spokesman said].
eBay's new program is only in its nascent stages of development. But the company says its pro sellers that already use advanced selling features in Selling Manager will be able to find and subscribe to third-party tools the same way they do now for eBay-developed tools.
This is really cool. Facebook, MySpace, and a range of others have been increasingly opening their platforms to outside developers, making the web a bit less like a series of silo'd fiefdoms and more like a communal pool of code.
It's very likely that in a few years time we won't think about open source as a strategy for opening up packaged software, but rather a strategy for making web applications richer and more relevant to a wider body of people. The business models behind open source will change in the process, as Stephen O'Grady suggests.
I suspect that a heck of a lot more money will then start changing hands. Good times....