Paul wrote: "The trouble with the geospatial marketplace is that it is relatively small, so the small proportion an open source company can monetize is smaller still."
I wonder how this will change as the ability to obtain spatial information improves and becomes more affordable? A few decades ago you needed 3 or 4 men, expensive optical equipment, and a trained eye to produce maps. Now all you need is a teenager, a motorcycle, and a GPS receiver. I think you will find more opportunities for companies with a business model built around FOSS as this trend plays out. Here are a couple of examples from my own personal experience: On entry barrier to GIS is initial data production costs. I have been impressed at the difference the availability of USDA Aerial Photography has made in the last few years. (The USDA provides 1 meter color orthophotgraphy to most counties in California and other parts of the United States on a yearly basis. This data can be accessed for free or next-to-nothing.) This has allowed us to do things in my own office that we couldn't have considered before. The cost of that type of imagery on that large of a scale was just too prohibitive. As geospatial data becomes cheaper, more up-to-date, and more precise, I believe you will see the "entry-level" cost of GIS implementation at different organizations drop. This is especially true of remotely sensed data. Still, it applies to vector data as well. You can't find very many California counties that don't have vector data available, although licensing is still an issue in some places. I believe there are a lot of markets for GIS that haven't been cracked open yet. Land surveying is one of these. ESRI has thrown some darts in this direction, but if you ask your typical land surveyor what GIS is you would probably get some off-the-wall answers. I doubt even 5% would understand how they could use GIS technology to improve the efficiency of there own operations. Another example is an experience I had recently when I volunteered for a local Ranger District of the US Forest Service. I assumed the Ranger District would have a GIS person on staff, or at least have some GIS software and have people that could use it. This was not the case. Most of the Forest Service staff at the Ranger Station didn't know what GIS was, and they certainly weren't using it at a local level for forest management. Thinking about this makes me wish I had about a couple million dollars in capital to spend. :] I still think there is great potential for a company to educate potential clients on the benefits of GIS to their particular organization, after which the company could then make an honest profit assisting with the organization with a low cost FOSS GIS implementations. It's too bad I have so much fun as a land surveyor, or I'd have to put more time into getting this type of business off the ground. With the US housing market in the toilet you never know what might happen... :] There will be lots of opportunities for FOSS GIS in the future. (It almost makes me want to buy stock in Refractions Research.) :] I think the key will be making more of an effort to find customers, instead of waiting for them to find us. I'm not talking about existing ESRI users, but rather people that have had little exposure to GIS to begin with, but who could easily be GIS users if someone showed them how. Landon -----Original Message----- From: [EMAIL PROTECTED] [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of Paul Ramsey Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2008 9:09 AM To: OSGeo Discussions Subject: Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models Xen is one of those things where the market is SO DAMN HUGE that even the very SMALL proportion of money that an open source company can wring from the marketplace is actually non-trivial in an absolute sense. If Red Hat is only monetizing 0.01% of the Linux marketplace, that's still fine, because they are making millions. The best market places seem to be "enterprise" software with large new markets. Examples of success stories are JBoss, Red Hat, Sleepycat, MySQL, and note that the last two are actually "sort of" open source companies, in that they still fall back on the software-for-sale model for revenues. The trouble with the geospatial marketplace is that it is relatively small, so the small proportion an open source company can monetize is smaller still. The problem with service-oriented FOSS businesses is that they don't make money from software, so the easiest thing to cut in budgeting is core software development. Let the product languish for a while, it doesn't cost you anything as long as service business keeps flowing in. Or, in the case of pure consultancies, don't do any core development at all, just use the software. The service- oriented FOSS business I think has serious structural problems, not around providing good service, but around strong incentives to nourish the underlying software. P. On 3-Jan-08, at 8:58 AM, Christopher Schmidt wrote: > On Thu, Jan 03, 2008 at 10:26:51AM -0500, Lucena, Ivan wrote: >> Hi all, >> >> I am *not* going to disagree with Andrea, Gilberto, Paul, Howard or >> anybody else. I just want to point out a interesting open source >> business model that is making a big impact this days. I am talking >> about >> Xen [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xen]. >> >> I keep reading news and more news about new commercial products >> from big >> software companies based on Xen. Is that possible on the GIS world? > > Depending on what you're reading (I can't tell from a quick Google > which > types of stories you're talking about), I'm not sure how Xen really > plays a part in the commercialization. Xen can be used to host > products > in a virtual environment, and if that is the case, there's no money > being made off *Xen*, money is being made off the other software. > > I could be wrong. I just didn't find anything to back up either way in > the Wikipedia and related links. > > Regards, > -- > Christopher Schmidt > Web Developer > _______________________________________________ > Discuss mailing list > Discuss@lists.osgeo.org > http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss _______________________________________________ Discuss mailing list Discuss@lists.osgeo.org http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss Warning: Information provided via electronic media is not guaranteed against defects including translation and transmission errors. If the reader is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this information in error, please notify the sender immediately. _______________________________________________ Discuss mailing list Discuss@lists.osgeo.org http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss