10/05/2004

Mainstream press and punt the pundit!

EWeek picked up the story Laszlo Open-Sources App-Building Platform.

Buried in there is an interesting quote:
Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, in Waltham, Mass., called Laszlo's decision "interesting" but also "somewhat desperate." Schmelzer said, "The issue is that Macromedia is the real juggernaut here. Their Flex product is going to significantly impact the market for rich client technology, and it's hard to see how a startup can effectively compete against a company with 98-percent penetration on the desktop and millions of developer customers."

Flex has 98% wow! I think Ronald is missing the point a bit. Laszlo competes with Flex on the server side. Though it would be safer to say Flex competes with Laszlo since LPS is in its second generation with high profile deployments at places like Earthlink, Behr, LaQuinta, and Yahoo. To date Flex is deployed on exactly one public facing site.

Macromedia has millions of developer customers for their whole product line, not Flex.

Schmelzer said open source should not be viewed as a panacea. "Startups now think that open source is the magic bullet that somehow helps them avoid having to effectively sell and market their product. There are two fallacies with this thought. First, that open source means free. If it's free, then open source by definition isn't a business model.

If selling servers and per-cpu licenses are your business model then you'd be a fool to open souce your crown jewels. If open souce is the wrong way to go why is Microsoft desparately trying to be a part of it? Why is Solaris 10 due to be Open source? Why is Java due to be open source? Business changes, Laszlo figured out that we couldn't compete aginst the marketing dollars and "juggernaut" staus and instead we're focussing on our core strengths of building the best web deployed, rich client applications avaialble.

If it's not free, then you still have to sell it. Second, why would a developer want to put their time and effort into developing a Flash-based application that has a limited market when you can spend the same amount of time developing on top of a platform that already has millions of users?


Now we really see that he doesn't get it. Why would a developer want to spend tens of thousands of dollars to to put their time and effort into developing a Flash-based application that has a limited market when you can spend the same amount of time developing on top of a platform that already has millions of users?

See here, Flex runs on Flash 7 only. You're more limited in the penetration with Flex than with Laszlo. Ronald didn't do his homework.
"Fundamentally, Laszlo will have to compete directly with Macromedia for Flash-based rich clients. They only way they can survive is to produce a well-differentiated value proposition for both end-user customers and developers. Open source doesn't do anything to help that value proposition."

Looks like we have another pundit that doesn't understand open source at all, and our space even less.

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