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the open source applications foundation


Some parts of blog-land seem to have stirred in the past few days with the appearance of Mitch Kapor (Lotus founder) and his announcement of a "progress blog" on how his Open Source Applications Foundation evolves. The goal of the OSAF is, according to their webpage:

Our mission is to create and gain wide adoption for software applications of uncompromising quality using Open Source methods. Our first product, now under development, will be used to manage email, appointments, contacts, and tasks and easily allow information to be shared with friends, family, and colleagues. It will be free and will run on the Windows, Macintosh and Linux platforms. It will not require a server or complex administration.
This of course has created excitement, but also a bit of controversy, well put by Don Park on his weblog (here, here and here):
What I am afraid of is the erosion in the sense of value for software. If OSAF succeeds, consumers will have access to a wide array of high quality software for free. Most likely, every PC will start to ship with them preloaded. Every time a new OSAF product ships, a market segment will dies. OSAF paints a picture of the future where consumers are expected to pay for contents and services, but software is free.

[...]

If the only path with reasonable chance of success leads to destruction of value, a cornerstone of market economy, should you take it? My answer is no.

It's a valid point. Everything has its place, including fee-based software, free software, and open source mixed or not with the two. Instead of destruction of value, probably a better path would be to create a good product, at much lower price, maybe make it open-source and give Microsoft competition--something similar to StarOffice/OpenOffice. But destruction of value, as Don puts it, seems to amount to "dumping", which will first and foremost affect the small developers, and only later the monopoly itself.

Other comments on it include Jon's, Dave's (here and here) and Chuck's.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on October 22 2002 at 3:13 PM

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