We've had discussions about revenue models for software products previously.
Right now, PC/OpenSystems LLC (makers of customized Linux distros and sellers of pre-configured Linux systems) is trying a variation of the classic "ransom" formula. As long as they receive a minimum of $2,000 recurring
contributions per month, they will continue to offer their distro (OS4
) for free.
Ok...maybe it's not so much a ransom as it is a "protection money" formula since it's recurring.
(It worked for PBS, right?)
Be interesting to see how this plays out. I intend to check back monthly and see when (not if) they switch over to charging for it.
Here's the announcement on their website
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Keeping OS4 Free
Ok, So now that we are at 12.5 people have asked me about the free version of OS4. So what happens now. Well I had said that at 12.5 I will be charging for OS4 and I would cancel the free version. Well, I have gotten feedback on this and the concensus is not everyone is happy about that. So I have been brain storming on how I could satisfy my users and keep you guys happy. First, PC/OpenSystems LLC is a company. Any company wants to make money whether its through the consulting side or through OS4 and other software that we do. So, here is my compromise. If contributions build up and we make at least $2,000 dollars a month in recurring contributions I will keep OS4 free as a download. First, you will say that thats a lot of money but lets break it down I get 143 visitors on average a day. So lets say everyone contributes $5.00 so lets say $5.00 x 143 thats 715 dollars a week, now times that by 4 weeks that equals $2,860 a month. We will even do this, ALL contributions for OS4 will not fund any other part of PC/OpenSystems LLC. It will all be contributions for OS4 and http://www.os4online.com. So here is how this will work out, If we reach our goal by July 20, 2012 in RECURRING donations. OS4 will remain as a free download. If we dont, I will start charging for OS4 downloads.
I nice idea. But I think it's mostly wishful thinking on their part. There's so much "free and equally good" in Linux-land that it would require something truly unique to sway potential buyers to pay for a distro. I'll have to download a copy (and make a contribution since they've asked so politely) to see if there's anything about this distro that makes it special.
Where I think their idea is going to fall down is on the issue of support. They are only offering 90 days of email support if you purchase their distro. Not a compelling offer IMO since support is really what most newbie Linux users need more than anything. And it's also the one thing most end-users are extremely reluctant to see a need to pay for.
Time will tell...
I wish them luck.