Open Core Debate

Could Open Core Damage Open Source?

Jessica Thornsby

Stephen O’Grady blogs that Open Core backlash could drive customers to proprietary software.

Stephen O’Grady is the latest blogger to wade into the Open Core debate. He presents Open Core as a double-edged sword: on the one hand, it may generate revenue, but on the other, it damages developer goodwill and participation by drawing attention to the differences between customer interests and vendor interests.

Interestingly, he perceives the backlash against Open Source, as having potentially damaging consequences for open source. According to him, the average customers will not grasp the differences between open source and Open Core and, spooked by the community’s warnings about Open Core, they will embrace fully proprietary software. The lack of awareness regarding open source, is actually something that Open Core critique Simon Phipps has spoken about recently. In a recent – and unrelated – blog post, he suggested the OSI should focus on educating the next generation of computer science graduates, who he referred to as thinking “open source or free software just mean “Linux.” Will all the noise against Open Core, result in those with no clear idea of open source, opting for the comforting familiarity and clearly-defined boundaries of fully proprietary software?

Stephen O’Grady believes that the license isn’t of particular interest to the average user anyway, claiming that they are more concerned with whether a particular software gets the job done, than whether it is “truly” open source. This is echoed by Giuseppe Maxia, who has also stated that your average customer will be satisfied with a product that works, and pay little attention to whether it’s open source or Open Core.

Ultimately, Stephen O’Grady sees Open Core vs. open source as an individual choice; and, at the end of the day, isn’t that what software freedom is all about?

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