Open source opportunity, open source risk

I've been traveling more than usual lately, and while on the road I've been working my way through the ITConversations audio archive. It's full of gems, and one of them is Doug Kaye's interview with Philip Greenspun. While discussing the ArsDigita flameout, Greenspun offers insightful perspectives on the opportunity, and the risk, of open source as a business model.

The opportunity, he says (2 min, mp3), is:

The risk, he says (1.5 min, mp3), is that:

Both halves of this argument are contrarian. Part one -- that open source businesses thrive on "novel or poorly-solved" problems -- seems surprising because most of the success stories revolve around commoditization of known solutions. Part two -- that open source businesses are exquisitely vulnerable to inefficiency -- likewise seems surprising because the architecture of participation can be highly efficient.

I like contrarian arguments, and these are two worth pondering.

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