This software brought to you by Ovaltine

Is an advertising-supported model the way forward for the software industry?

Are we having a recession yet? Ask and ye shall receive. If the bad news keeps rolling in from Wall Street, coded phrases like "economic downturn" won't stop companies from acting as if the recession is already here.

No wonder pundits are predicting boom times for SaaS, cloud computing, and other, subscription-oriented software offerings. Who wants to sink cash into software as a fixed asset when returns from short- and long-term investments are drifting into the red?

To suggest that the death of traditional desktop software is imminent, however, would be premature. Too many of the current online offerings are too immature, too insecure, or too unreliable for mission-critical use. Still, that doesn't do much to dispel the grim but very real spectre now haunting the software industry: How in the hell are we going to make money?

Some claim the answer is that last refuge of scoundrels: advertising. A growing roster of top-ranked IT companies -- from Google to Microsoft, Mozilla to Symantec -- have been boosting the bottom lines of their products with cross-branding and marketing deals. But will it really work, or is it just another house of cards?

Sun's gambit

I've spent a lot of breath knocking Sun and its business model lately, but I have to give Jonathan Schwartz and company some credit. Viewed in hindsight, Sun's move toward a 100 percent open source, subscription-support model was a preemptive strike against just this kind of market eventuality.

If you don't want to pay for Sun's software, don't. Go ahead and use it anyway. But if you need world-class support to maximize the efficiency of your business infrastructure, Sun's operators are standing by.

But while Sun's open source business model -- like Red Hat's -- works well when the products are complex, mission-critical enterprise information systems, it's not a good match for consumer desktop software. In the consumer realm, user-friendliness is king. And when the app is user-friendly enough -- in other words, when the developers have done their jobs -- the customer doesn't need support. (Little wonder that Red Hat got out of the consumer desktop Linux business.)

That's OK, Sun's CEO says, because users who don't pay can be profitable, too. As Schwartz blogged earlier this month, Sun sees each free download as a channel opened to a user; and that channel, he says, can be monetized through co-branding and marketing deals with other companies. If he can be believed, the marketing channel to Java's audience is already the major revenue source for Sun's Java efforts, and he's currently auctioning off co-branding opportunities in the OpenOffice.org suite, too.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags application development

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Neil McAllister

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?