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EU research promoting the ‘libre’ software model

by Nicolas Bossut last modified 2007-01-31 15:36

CALIBRE has identified as a promising business model the approach used by ZEA Partners and its network of companies across Europe and beyond that shares customers, contacts and expertise to deliver software-related services.


"Zea Partners is a network that allows small companies to deliver a whole product in a way that they can’t do on their own - by allying together they can compete with big companies", says Dr Feller.


Primary and secondary software sectors

Heavyweights and world leaders in the primary software sector are now competing directly against open source applications – built by global communities of collaborating developers – like the Firefox browser and Open Office productivity software.

The primary software sector tends to grab the most headlines – word-processing applications for example can become industry drivers in themselves. However it is the secondary sector, where manufacturers like Nokia and Daimler Chrysler create applications specific to their own products, that will produce the greatest growth over the next ten years.

Frank van der Linden of Philips Medical Systems argues that for global companies, it doesn’t make sense to invest resources in software that doesn’t create any differentiating value for the company. “The global demand for software development is so high that it simply can’t be addressed without including collaboration with open source communities," he says.


Identifying promising business models

Calibre identified some promising business models, such as that used by ZEA Partners and a network of companies from across Europe and beyond who share customers, contacts and expertise to deliver software related services. "It's a network that allows small companies to deliver a whole product in a way that they can’t do on their own - by allying together they can compete with big companies." says Dr Feller.


Accessing the open source benefits

Accessing open source markets is a problem, however. Links between business and open source communities remain fractured, and many companies are unsure of how to approach an open source initiative or develop a grassroots community. There are few validated business models for open source products, and many businesses are simply unaware of the potential opportunities that exist.

"Early attempts to build business models around open source focused only on identifying revenue models," he says. "But revenue is just a small slice of the business; companies need to find ways to manage customers, manage knowledge, innovate and compete effectively – not just generate income."

The research highlights the critical issues to be addressed if open source is to continue to create business value. It encompasses CALIBRE's scientific objectives like distributed development methods, but it tackles some fundamental issues as well, such as how to develop appropriate business models, how to deal with the changing nature of open source, and balancing the interests of a grassroots community that sprung from the ideals of the commonwealth against the needs of multinationals focused on market, competition and profit.



Sources
Cordis
Dr Joseph Feller, Senior Lecturer (BIS), University College Cork, Ireland

Source

http://www.zeapartners.org/articles/calibre-promoting-libre-software