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O'Reilly on the Commoditization of Software 285

Iorek writes "International Data Group/Sverige has a great interview with Tim O'Reilly, CEO of O'Reilly & Associates Inc. From predictions of eBay's purchase of Oracle to discussions of the failings of open source licenses, O'Reilly's certainly not reserved. I couldn't help but be reminded of the rise of this site and slashcode."
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O'Reilly on the Commoditization of Software

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  • by g_arumilli ( 324501 ) on Saturday July 05, 2003 @12:00AM (#6370767)
    According to Yahoo! Finance, EBay has a market capitalization of $34.9 billion, while Oracle has one of $63.6 billion. So unless Larry Ellison has "pocket change" on the order of tens of billions of dollars, he doesn't have a shot in hell of purchasing EBay. While it may be a stretch to assume that EBay will some day grow large enough to purchase Oracle, it is kind of suprising how large EBay has grown.
  • Tim O is right (Score:5, Informative)

    by RevMike ( 632002 ) <revMike@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday July 05, 2003 @12:10AM (#6370799) Journal
    I have a cousin working for a company that sells, among other things, a mainframe based spreadsheet app. He claims that the market for applications is drying up, and I have to agree.

    The fact of the matter is that the various open source or free products are good enough. As the software consumers become better educated, the market for traditional applications shrinks. is good enough that anyone who knows better won't buy MS Office. Opera is as good as any browser out there and can be run free of charge - with only a minor banner ad. One by one any major "shrink wrap" product will feel the pinch.

    The future is in two places - integration and data critical mass.

    Integration is really going to be two businesses - creating then supporting custom collections of free software and writing code to integrate free applications into custom solutions. The first business is already developing - with companies such as RedHat leading the way. The second business is in its infancy - but much of our future lay with workflow scripting.

    Data Critical Mass is the business of becoming the big boy in a market with no natural barriers and doing it well enough that there is no reason for customers to look elsewhere. Very honestly, how long would it take a small group of decent programers to replicate "eBay"? I think about a week. But at the end of the week could we provide better value? Hell, no! Why would anyone list with us, and our "dozens of potential buyers" on day one when they can list with eBay and be seen by "millions"?

    In the future, all general purpose applications will be written by bearded socialist hippies while smoking pot in their basements as the professional (in the sense of getting paid - not work quality) programmers write workflow scripts in the office. Meanwhile the eBays and Amazons are smart enough to keep the "goose laying the golden eggs" alive, content to dominate their marketplace and earn a decent margin rather than try to get a fat margin and instead create an opeing for a competitor.

  • Bingo.

    Don't think that O'Reilly doesn't know this either. Check out how many books, articles, and so forth they have published since OS X came out. I had the privilege a few months ago to have a sit down with the current editor of the Apple books, and from the way he talked it seems that O'Reilly is nothing short of ecstatic about the OS.

    O'Reilly, IMHO, publishes by far the best books on the market. This is because they have excellent editors and scouts (for lack of a better word) to find very intelligent, very insightful people to write their books. I suggest people check out there dev sites more often; they are treasure troves of info

    The O'Reilly Network [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

  • by edhall ( 10025 ) <> on Saturday July 05, 2003 @02:40AM (#6371208) Homepage

    You mean VA Software Corporation, of which OSDN is a wholly-owned subsidiary. I'd say that things are looking better [] than they were even a couple months ago. Of course, if the naysayers had been right, they'd have gone "poof" in 2000 or 2001, like about 80% of companies formed during the internet bubble.

  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Saturday July 05, 2003 @04:23PM (#6373471)
    I've been involved in any number of rather large software contracts and I have never known the buyer to even ask about access to source, or any other questions re: doing their own development. They're buying a tool, and if they need to do something else later on, they'll buy more tools.

    Nor do they want to "study" the code, anymore than they want to "study" the trucks they rent. Nor do they have any interest at all in "redistributing" anything. In fact, they'd think that was simply donating what they bought to their competitors, a strikingly stupid thing to do.

    The arguments you raise are often raised regarding open source and free software, but, frankly, they only apply within the confines of a segment of the software development community. In the world of business, no one has reason to care.

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe