When I teach open source software policy classes, one of the first things I say is that open source software is different because the acquisition of open source bypasses procurement. Companies are all set up for software to come in through procurement: the finance department gets involved, the license gets reviewed by legal, the user agreement is negotiated by contracts, ... but open source software doesn't come in through procurement. It bypasses the entire system because developers can just download it directly from the web.
So it was with great interest that I read Simon Phipp's definition of an "Adoption-Led Market". It fits.
In this approach, developers select from available Free software and try the software that fits best in their proposed application. They develop prototypes, switch packages as they find benefits and problems and finally create a deployable solution to their business problem. At that final point, assuming the application is sufficiently critical to the business to make it worthwhile to do so, they seek out vendors to provide support, services (like defect resolution) and more. Adoption-led users are not all customers; they only become so when they find a vendor with value to offer.
Simon then goes on to describe some of what this means to vendors: participating in communities instead of lots of sales people; responding quickly to feedback instead of creating shiny demos; etc.
In response to Simon, Savio Rodrigues wrote a post that sounded like denial. He said the adoption-led market couldn't exist because it would mean business models built on support and a throw back to shareware days. Savio, I think the adoption-led market is real and here to stay. It's up to us to figure out what business models will work well with the adoption-led market spearheaded by developers.
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