Does Anyone Buy Software Anymore?: Page 2

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Open Source and Wireless

Another disrupter in the software business is open source. Open source vendors have led the charge to a model in which the original product is very inexpensive (sometimes virtually free), but the vendor earns revenue through maintenance or licensing fees.

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And open source has come a long way in the last few years. “You see a lot of open source in middleware, in operating systems, you’re starting to see a lot of it in databases,” Correia says.

“There’s a lot of open source outside the United States. And those communities are continuing to add value to that.”

Open source’s culture of sharing code turns the traditional software business on its head. This culture of sharing isn’t new, she notes, pointing to the tradition of Unix. “But now it’s enabled by the Internet.”

However, open source faces its own challenges. “We see open source as an environment that people are actually starting to look at, because it reduces costs – but it increases risks sometimes.”

In particular, lingering questions around intellectual property may cause buyer hesitancy. Correia notes that as companies build their own custom apps using open source code, they wonder, “Where’s the line between the enterprise’s IP and open source’s IP?”

At a recent open source conference, Correia spoke with a number of companies about their concerns regarding this emerging software model. One of the more prevalent concerns they voiced was “’How do I provide governance that protects my corporation’s IP…and keeps the open source community going?’ – that’s the challenge going forward.”

Still another disrupter of the software business is the burgeoning wireless world. Not that complex enterprise-level apps are likely to reside on our cell phones anytime soon. “But for the average person, who just surfs the Internet and uses e-mail, as those devices get more smart,” they move the industry toward a Web-based model, Correia says.

The cumulative effect of all these industry disrupters adds up to a certain unpredictability. “The mobile [factor], plus open source, plus software as a service, makes things very interesting,” she says.

Next page: Certain Things Don’t Change

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