Clarification on my call for license change

Roger Fujii rmf at
Sun Feb 17 15:00:34 CST 2002

David Elliott wrote:
> On 2002.02.16 18:58 Roger Fujii wrote:
> [SNIP]
> > don't know about that.  Considering their cost of goods conceptually is
> > zero...  As for support, I don't see it ever being a panacea for the
> > industry.  Various models for support have already been tried by
> > commerical companies with varying levels of success.  However, there's
> > a really bad side to this model, as it puts the economic incentive on
> > generating support calls - which means that there is LESS incentive for
> > fixing bugs (even in site support, you're less apt to buy it if the
> > program is trouble free).
> Actually, there would be an economic incentive to NOT have support calls.
> Support calls cost money.  If people don't call you with support calls
> that are clearly your fault (i.e. a bug) then you make more money. 

This only hold true for a productized model, where you pay for something
in advance.  If you pay for product, then support for it usually subtracts
from the profit and it is a cost of doing business.  This does have the economic
incentive in the "right" place because you want to minimize the number of
support calls (though it hasn't stopped companies like M$
who has monopoly powers).  However, in a PURE support model (ie, not one 
based on making money up front by a sale and must have a revenue stream all 
its own), you basically have 2 choices:
 1) Charge by the incident
 2) Offer site support

With #1, support calls MAKE money.   If you have a problem-free product, it
subracts from #2 (and #1 for the matter).  In either case, the incentive is in the 
"wrong" place because your revenue stream is going to depend on people having

> Of course you're right, there still is incentive to want people to at least
> pay for support which you can hope they'd be more willing to do if you
> give them some reason to do so.  Introducing bugs for this purpose would
> surely backfire as you'd get more calls than you could afford to pay for.

I wasn't implying that people would sabotage products.  I was only trying to
point out that the much hearlded support model for open source projects is
not nearly as good as people make it out to be.  


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