Open Core is not a Business Model

Apple core duoOpen Core is the New Dual Licensing Model” is the last of a chain of interesting posts against or in favor of open core, coming from different realm of experience: the analyst guy Stephen O’Grady, the free software evangelist Simon Phipps, the hacker Brian Aker and last but not least the entrepreneur MÃ¥rten Mickos.

Let’s dig now deeper into what is open core to business, and why it is not a business model.

The “open core (licensing)” expression was originally coined by Andrew Lampitt, and it was rightly pointing to the licensing side, but it ended to be used to refer to a specific kind of “open source business model” (emphasis is mine):

The open core model is about a particular business model that an increasing number of commercial open source vendors have chosen for its ability to both scale a business while serving communities.[..]

When it comes down to it, it’s all about value. If the open source core adds value to the community, the project will thrive. If the commercial license adds valuable features, the vendor will thrive as well.

All boils down to if the open source core adds or not value to the community. And a lot more maybe said about different approaches to apply the “open core licensing”, or as I would rather say how such licensing is part of the whole open source business strategy.

Take Funambol Open Core way, or the more Apache-ish Day Software approach is clear that not every business strategy based on an open core licensing policy diminishes Freedom.

Funambol balances community and business interests targeting two different customer segments (enterprises/carriers), yet developing a tight relationship with external developers through its architecture of participation.

Day Software is a different story telling about a variant of the open core definition – namely the community controlled core copyrights – but here the vendor doesn’t claim to be an open source vendor and this for some makes a big difference.