I want to shortly share the answer. The answer is “yes”. Ooh, by the way the question is if open source can be profitable. Obviously open source can be profitable, but here I want to discuss if the desktop open source can be profitable.
I’ll start with an example.
Yorba’s Geary pledged $50k out of $100k goal
Mailpile pledged $160k out of $100k goal
Yorba’s Jim Nelson explains the reasons of what went wrong. Personally, I have a very clear opinion of what went wrong. Why do you think Mailpile pledged more than Geary?
You know I’m building a Theme Service for GNOME. Wrong. I am building a Theme Service for every possible Desktop. Wrong again. I am building a Digital Art Service similar to DeviantArt, but much more sophisticated.
The main design goal of this service is to be scalable, flexible, expandable. This service gives a free ( and always free ) API for every client want to use it. And the service it self is going to be open source ( at least that is the plan so far ).
How you get profit? Charge for extra services, and get a commission for every item is sold through there. How do you get the competitive advantage since it is open source? I already know it is going to be very popular, I will just deploy it 1st.
The client a bit abandoned. Working on the server bits :/
A company offered me a very good deal to sell it. My alternative is to run a Crowdfunding Campaign and if I won’t make it, I will sell it. In any case I’ll make profit.
Bind Your Apps 2 Web
You want to make profit out of open source? Bind your applications into web. You can charge people like that and you can offer “smarter” applications anyway. Client / Server applications is the only way.
If I was a Yorba owner and if I could turn the time back, I would had created an online Application Center for Linux, and I would let users to create Clients for their Distros. I am pretty sure that in this case Yorba would be able to pledge around $300-$400k in Crowdfunding Campaign.
By the way I wrapped Mailpile into a GTK ( but I didn’t set up mail accounts ), just for demonstration. We can access WebKit DOM via GTK, I hope GNOME Team to work more on this.