Why isn't there more commercial software for Linux?

There will always be a place for closed source. And not always because the developer wants to make money out of a secret.

For example if I write a highly specialised software package which only works with a particular configuration of computing infrastructure, my client may possibly be the only person in the world to have such a configuration. It’s is not true that opening up source costs nothing. It takes time to package and document to make the source useful. And it takes effort further down the line to shepherd the source through future developments. And the client will rightfully ask why pay this cost if there is no return to me?

However that’s not to say that parts of the source base may not be usefully released, e.g. a driver for some commonly available piece of hardware. The problem is the source is often tangled and it may not be easy to separate parts without proper planning.

The way forward with increasing the amount of FOSS released then is to reduce the entry cost. That’s what the Internet has been good for. You might say that FOSS came of age with the Internet, no more swapping tapes with other institutions or posting multi-part archives to Usenet. With web archives, wikis, repositories, mailing lists, bug trackers, etc all available for free, it’s never been easier. There is still the hurdle of convincing the boss, the lawyers, the marketoids, etc. of course.

stakanov wrote:
> This thread is not intended to be a annoying and redundant discussion
> about open source vs closed source software.
> Instead:
> Why isn’t there more commercial software for Linux?
>
> And I am not speaking about the professional server-sided one, or the
> “in-house” and personalized solutions for mid sized professional
> enterprises. There is, AFAIK a whole bunch.
>
> The thing that I do not understand is that the frivolous “screensaver”
> kind of things as well as other creative software are not offered on the
> market.
> A lot of these products (we speak about “no adware, spyware but on
> payment
”), is available for Mac.
> Now I am far from being an expert, but if something is brought natively
> to Mac (that is, if I am not in error) Unix based, then it should be
> technically not overly costly to bring it also to Linux.
> This is true also for professional OCR software, for reference mangers,
> and many more. Mac available. Linux not. Or take (a part of skype) the
> voip softwares around. Very often the announce vaporware (we are
> currently developing) that everybody knows it will never ship.
>
> Now the question is: why is this not done?
> Is this not done because of the GPL or don’t they port it because of
> the low market share of Linux? With other words enterprises see no
> business. Or is there a business and -they just do not want to see it?-
> Or is this expression of a contorted mentality of the producers seeing
> in the open source OS simply a “red thread to capitalistic values”?
>
> Because if the quality would be good (true for quite a number of
> applications out there) I would not have a problem to pay for a very
> specialized technical software as OCR, or one that requires a particular
> amount of investment in terms of artistically skills and creativity.
> These software applications require such a high degree of specialization
> that sometimes I think that the open source model could be less
> efficient (in the sense that such a project will be feasible. but will
> take time and will run into the problem of an elevated turnover of
> programmers, mainly for the reasons that they have to make their living
> also elsewhere.
> For me, open source is done because people belief in this kind of model
> but it shall not be forced on others as long as they do not take
> unilateral advantage of the work of others. And I do not see that it has
> been constructed not to allow business with software. (Leave apart the
> ideological discussion about good or bad. I am really interested about
> the motivational (or legal) issue.
>
> Discuss.
>
>
Easiest answer, supply and demand. Not enough demand because of the
market share so the companies don’t supply.

Too easy. If you consider that a company would not have to “develop from the scratch”, that they already have a working program for Mac and that they would be monopolist or oligopolist in a (admittedly small) market, without ANY royalties to pay for the right to offer the software…the answer is IMHO not so straightforward any more.
I have more the suspect that in some non disclosure agreement is written that "in Order to have the license right X for some OS you have to agree of not developing your product for Linux.
(The big black money-bag standing in the way?). Very similar to the Intel strategy at the time (and fixed in non-disclosure agreements).

On Sun, 17 Jan 2010 17:26:01 +0000, stakanov wrote:

> Too easy. If you consider that a company would not have to “develop from
> the scratch”, that they already have a working program for Mac and that
> they would be monopolist or oligopolist in a (admittedly small) market,
> without ANY royalties to pay for the right to offer the software…the
> answer is IMHO not so straightforward any more.

Except that it is - the cost of creating software isn’t the only cost.
You also have the cost of supporting it, testing it/doing QA on it,
marketing it - and those costs are frequently quite high as well; I would
guess higher than the cost of actually creating it.

It comes down to economics.

Jim

Jim Henderson
openSUSE Forums Moderator

It comes down to economics.

Or to who is doing the analysis. A few years there where a few analysts that swore that Linux never would get seriously into the server market (hoops) and that a software industry cannot live with/on Linux-servicing.
I do not see Novel regretting the Linux choice. If I have well observed, percentual earnings of the Linux business is one of the very few really profitable parts during this economic crisis.
The question is: does it come down ONLY to economics. I do not think it anymore. Not after having seen what happened in the netbook sector. Very didactic.

On Sun, 17 Jan 2010 18:16:02 +0000, stakanov wrote:

>> It comes down to economics.
> Or to who is doing the analysis.

Certainly that is true, yes.

> A few years there where a few analysts
> that swore that Linux never would get seriously into the server market
> (hoops) and that a software industry cannot live with/on
> Linux-servicing. I do not see Novel regretting the Linux choice.

Novell, you mean? (Sorry, I work for Novell in my day job, and it always
gets me when the company name is misspelt <g>). No, I don’t see any kind
of regret either, though anyone who’s looked at the numbers can see that
it generally hasn’t made Novell very much money relative to the closed-
source products produced.

But there has been an increase in interest with the economic downturn,
and that is perhaps the silver lining for companies that do work with OSS
software.

Ultimately, though, I’d say yes, it does come down to being an economic
decision, but with the caveat that those doing the analysis may not
understand OSS well enough to do a proper economic analysis. A failed
economic analysis is still an economic analysis.

Jim


Jim Henderson
openSUSE Forums Moderator

A failed economic analysis is still an economic analysis.

Novell…ehem, pardon. This was wisely said and if you believe it or not, there are a lot of these examples around. Still they are analysis. And who of the analysts will claim: substantially,…“I have not the right background to do the job…”.:frowning:

Actually, their Linux products were the only place Novell turned a profit last year, based on their annual report. Sales of their proprietary products have been declining for some time.

On Sun, 17 Jan 2010 18:36:01 +0000, stakanov wrote:

>> A failed economic analysis is still an economic analysis.
>>
> Novell…ehem, pardon. This was wisely said and if you believe it or not,
> there are a lot of these examples around. Still they are analysis. And
> who of the analysts will claim: substantially,…“I have not the right
> background to do the job…”.:frowning:

Sure, but that doesn’t mean that a failed economic analysis can’t lead to
a bad conclusion. It happens all the time - welcome to the real
world. :slight_smile:

Jim


Jim Henderson
openSUSE Forums Moderator

On Sun, 17 Jan 2010 18:46:01 +0000, chief sealth wrote:

> hendersj;2105743 Wrote:
>> No, I don’t see any kind of regret either, though anyone who’s looked
>> at the numbers can see that
>> it generally hasn’t made Novell very much money relative to the
>> closed-source products produced.
>
> Actually, their Linux products were the only place Novell turned a
> profit last year, based on their annual report. Sales of their
> proprietary products have been declining for some time.

I think that depends on how you look at the analysis. Again, I have to
state that I am a Novell employee as well as a stockholder. I’m talking
strictly from information that’s public knowledge and as a person who has
followed Novell for a very long time.

The Linux business has been profitable, absolutely; however, the rate at
which the Linux business has brought in revenue has not matched the
decrease in revenue from the “Workgroup” product family (that is mostly
the legacy NetWare product as well as other products - for example,
doesn’t include things like ZENworks, IDM, Sentinel, Platespin, anything
from Managed Objects, etc).

That said, my point about economic analysis still stands - Novell has
been more successful than others at making Linux profitable; Novell’s
also not in the end user application space (for the most part - certainly
not like Adobe - for example - is). Adobe has to make their own
decision, and while it may be profitable to sell server services on
Linux, the market is considerably smaller for desktop Linux users, and
it’s up to each software producer to decide if it’s worth it to develop,
support, and maintain another platform - which is all part of the
economic decision to support an additional platform.

Jim


Jim Henderson
openSUSE Forums Moderator