FW: 100% of yesterday's second sealed
rasjidw at openminddev.net
Fri Nov 15 20:02:11 EST 2002
On Fri, 15 Nov 2002 8:20 am, RWare at INTERPLASTIC.com wrote:
> How much has the open source community donated in dollars?
This is a very misleading question. It assumes that dollars are the only
thing worth donating, and that how the dollars were gained is not important.
In calculating the net gain to the community of a 'donation' by a company,
one has to consider the cost to the community incurred by the company earning
that money in the first place.
Lets take a non-computing example. Suppose that BHP makes $1 billion, and
donates $10 million to help clean up the environment. (Landcare or the ACF
or TWS or Greenpeace or whatever). Is this donation a 'net gain' to the
society or the environment?? If BHP was a totally 'clean' company, and
caused no environmental damage, then the answer would be yes.
However, suppose that in the course of making its $1 billion, BHP causes $100
million worth of environmental damage. Then even though 'on paper' BHP has
made a significant donation ($10 million), there is still a 'net loss' of $90
million incurred by the (global) society through the activities of BHP.
One could reasonably argue that the value of software is its *fair* market
value. For the 01-02 financial year, Microsoft had revenue of US$28 billion.
Even is we assume that their software is only 10% overpriced because of their
monopoly position, that is a cost to the global community of (at least)
US$2.8 billion. And that is just for the last financial year, and only
assuming 10% overpricing. I more realistic figure might be that Microsoft
software is overpriced by about 30%, giving a net loss to the global
community of around US$10 billion last year. Until Microsoft has more than
paid its debt to the community (looking at revenue of the last few years, at
least US$10 billion, probably more) I remain completely unimpressed.
How does one value the software contribution made by the open source
community? That is actually quite difficult. At the very least, it would be
the market value of the person-hours put into creating it. Anyone seen an
estimate of the total person hours put into creating OSS? My guess is that
valuing OSS 'at cost' would represent a 'donation' to society of at least
several $100 million.
However, this understates the real value, since
a) we are only valuing at cost, not the *fair* market value, and
b) the vast majority of OSS is also a gift in perpetuity.
One could argue that the true 'gift value' of OSS would be to take the Net
Present Value of the 'Fair Market Value' (if developed in an closed source
proprietary manner) of all OSS across all present and *future* users. Of
course, this is impossible to know for certain. However, if we assume that
the use of OSS keeps growing in the current manner, the total gift value to
society of OSS is probably already into the billions of dollars (taking the
NPV of 'ongoing' nature of the gift).
So the way I see it:
Microsoft - net *cost* the the community - tens of billions of dollars (due to
monopoly pricing etc)
OSS - net *gift* to the community - at least hundreds of millions of dollars
worth of software development, and possibly billions of dollars if taking
into account the 'in perpetuity' nature of the gift.
Call me a zealot, but in my mind there is little question which has 'donated'
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