Going thru some videos, I ran across an interview with Martin Taylor where he briefly touched on three reasons a company may decide to open its software to the open source community. I thought they were interesting, so I figured I'd share them...
- Given up on research and development (R&D)
This doesn't necessarily mean that the company doesn't believe in R&D, tho. Instead, this may mean that R&D isn't cost prohibitive or that the company simply doesn't want to spend the time on it. In my opinion, this is probably one of the main reasons people decide to open software.
- Not a market leader, not going to be a market leader
Here's another big one. Being a new swimmer in a large pool can be daunting. You can't expect to jump in the pool and charge for swim lessons right away when nobody knows who you are. Opening software up can give prospective customers the chance to look at you and your solution in a less critical light.
- Platform dependencies better enhanced in community
This one I'm not so sure about. Don't get me wrong, I agree with the idea, but I'm not sure how many people would open their software simply based on this reason, whereas I could with the previous two.
Of course, this makes me wonder what other considerations people put into their open source strategy. A lot of people are simply sharing for the sake of sharing; however, I'd almost say that is implicitly acepting #1 and perhaps even #2. If you come up with a nice tool and don't mind sharing it, open it up to the community and let others grab a hold of it for free. Of course, this brings in the concept of closed open source, which is basically open source software in which you can't truly contribute. This is probably a touchy line, tho, and I don't think I should try to draw it... at least not right now.