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Profit margin limitations in selling OSS support

Open source software and applications expert Bernard Golden describes the limitations of selling software support for non-core technologies.

Most open source companies are following a similar business model where they give the software away for free and charge for service and support. Are there limits to that business model?

The limits to this business model are those described above -- running out of appropriate talent to provide services. In general, the more "core" a product is, the higher probability customers will buy support or purchase service. For example, it's unlikely that a user organization would purchase support for a development tool, because the downside to a problem is quite low; on the other hand, the probability of support purchase for a product like a database is much higher.

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