Generally open source refers to software whose source code is available for the general public’s use and modification from the original. The premise of open source software sounded like a mad mans idea in early 1980s, it seemed impractical and inapplicable for programmers to spend days and nights developing software then giving it away free. The rationale behind this though, was to ensure quality production of software by not focusing on proprietary rights or financial gain by the programmers. Needless to say, it worked, open source software is increasing yearly and 50% of software may be open source by 2016. Its ever growing popularity makes one wonder, does open source code really have monetary value?
Just because the source code is free doesn’t mean the associated documentation and support is. The ability of programmers to modify software makes it even more efficient and effective for use, appraisals and performance reviews to keep tabs on the software can be performed and on success, enormous monetary gain can be gotten by developing and selling its plugins like in SEO or WordPress and even charge for technical support. Huge financial institutions and companies are leaning towards open source so as to cut down costs and the ability to extract a section of this code and integrate it into their system is creating a heavenly tune. An example is the use of Linux kernel in banking institutions. Production is increased and costs cut down significantly leading to shot up economic gains all thanks to open source code. Plus, many have benefited from open source by generating revenue from complimentary proprietary products and services.
So where are the open source billionaires? The Bill Gates’ of the open source industry? Open source software as mentioned, is not profit oriented. Its license is free and this requires open source projects to run on low costs so as to be able to make the same amount or less as a similar proprietary software enterprise. People are willing to pay less for them, much less than they would pay a comparable enterprise and this forces open source to work twice as hard for same results. Well, open source software is for the benefit of the public and improvement of the software, the vast profit margins are not experienced as in commercial software. This hinders even more into investing in open source, creates hesitations and a million and one unanswered queries. The fear of hackers able to alter code also makes one shudder. Imagine a school’s website built on open source and hacked and modified without anyone’s knowledge, disastrous right?
Indeed, enthusiasm for open source software is driving a “golden era” in application development, according to Forrester Research and many of the software created are going open source. Some of them include Mozilla, Linux and the Bitcoin system. Even binary options software are open source as this attracts more people to invest in them. But the flip side of the coin still glares one in the face and leaves a lot unanswered, is what the open source programmer getting enough or does he deserve more? What if the product was proprietary?