Over the weekend I was giving a lot of thought about whether or not I was going to release an application I’m working on as an open-source project. Then I got a little off track thinking about how to monetize the thing if it ended up being of that quality and popularity. Eventually I came to the following point: most open-source software companies charge their customers for customization and support, this led me to the following question:
Is it in the developers best interest to create reliable and stable software when their key source of income is supporting said software?
It’s an interesting paradox, if a software vendor writes an application that is intuitive and easy to use, and also stable and correct, how will they make money if they’re giving it away for free? The ease of use would eliminate most of the need for installation assistance and general operations. Having the software be stable and reliable will reduce the amount of support required for application problems, thus again reducing the vendor’s primary revenue streams.
This makes me wonder if perhaps one of the big things holding back open source is that it is difficult to make money off of well designed and implemented open source software that is easy to use. Maybe I’m way off track here, so please correct me if I am missing any information or if my understanding of the problem is incorrect.