The Economics of Free: For Free

Remember the short piece I posted about the Radio 4 programme “In Business” a couple of weeks ago? Well, very kindly, the programme’s editor has provided me with a transcript of programme to

please use as you wish, but it has not been checked for accuracy. Good luck.

I have just read and listened again and didn’t find anything glaring although I did fix one rather amusing typo: “Linux Colonel” to “Linux Kernel”. It was sent to me as a Microsoft .doc file. I opened it in and exported it as a PDF so it should be readable by virtually everyone.

This programme does provide some excellent answers to the types of questions we repeatedly get asked in our day-to-day business:

  • “How do they/you make money from Open Source”
  • “Why should you/they give it away?”

So for those of you who get asked these sorts of questions and would like some non-technobable answers from a rather reputable source to use, the transcript can be downloaded in it’s entirety, for free, from our website here. On that page, there is also a link to the BBC’s permanent archive so the podcast can be retrieved too. As an interesting titbit, in his email with me, the editor said that about 600k people download the programme every month!

And just to whet your appetite, here is quite a nice quote from Chris Anderson – the editor of Wired

… Microsoft’s financial success is about taking a product whose underlying economics are zero, the marginal costs of reproducing software is zero, and charging $300 for it. You know incredible net profit margins. Unfortunately, economics always wins. People recognised that the underlying economics of distributing software were zero and so they were like okay, so Microsoft is getting monopoly profits because they are in fact a monopoly. What we need to do is break the monopoly. Not, as it turns out, by regulation and regulator, but instead the marketplace broke the monopoly.

If you are involved in any way with the promotion of FOSS and/or CC then this really is well worth listening too and or reading,

And although the editor didn’t provide any specific license conditions with the document, I plan to repsect the BBC’s copyright, and provide suitable attribution when and where we use snippets etc; something like this perhaps.

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