Friday, April 27, 2007

What is this freedom?


All of us may have used some free software sometime or the other. So what is this freedom? I will try here to explain a not so easy concept, in simple words...

At the top level, there are two types of freedom - financial and intellectual. Financial freedom is analogous to saying "I do not have to pay anyone to breathe". Intellectual freedom is analogous to saying "I have the freedom to assert 2 + 2 = 4 and no one else can dictate me to assert anything different". My experience is that many IT services companies function like factories and try to curb intellectual freedom of their employees.

In IT industry - both in products and services, you will find both types of freedom that creators give to the users. Do you think I should explain this in greater detail? Please let me know.

K Venkatesh

Launching of IT - why a few succeed and many fail?


I think I will start blogging in no particular order... So let us talk about launching of IT products and services now...

Have you ever thought how Firefox became quite successful, but Thunderbird didn't, quite as much? Both are open source products, both are free to use and free to enhance. If so, why is the disparity in their successes?

There are so many distributions of Linux - some that guarantee intellectual freedom and some that guarantee financial freedom as well (simplifying the legal fine print). Why are some distros more popular than others? Linux, the archetypal open source product, should have grown a lot more popular than it is. So, why is it still lagging behind the MS operating systems?

When we peel the layers of this mystique onion, we find more than one reason to explain.

Let us take the Firefox-Thunderbird case first. As a thumb rule, common users are more likely to use browser than a mail client. Users are now used to many free HTTP IMAP e-mail and network access is increasing. Hence they may not find a need to store their mails locally (POP). So is Mozilla trying to address a need of the users that is now no longer a need?

For Linux, the number of distros has been both a boon and a bane. The variety offers choice, but also clutter and disagreement in creation. This disagreement translates in the users' minds as confusion such as which distro should I choose for my server and which for my desktop (my favourite desktop distro is SimplyMEPIS). Also, the open source vendors such as Redhat and Novell are probably half-hearted in promoting open source. They have commercialized the Linux in a sense. So in a way their distros have gone into the proprietary realm. The other reason is the unavailability of applications on Linux. This is being addressed by many distros. SimplyMEPIS comes with Skype, Flash and many other applications installed; OpenOffice is present by default in most complete distros. Yet another reason for limited success is the installation experience. This is addressed by distro vendors giving away no-risk-try live CDs. This is an example of a great technology being put to a great use. The open source vendors do not have pockets as deep as MS or any big proprietary vendors. Big proprietary vendors can muscle their way into OEM deals for pushing their products, while that is yet to happen on the same scale in open source world. In a sense, it is probably good for open source vendors to consolidate and show a single face / fewer faces to the customer.

K Venkatesh

About myself


I am K Venkatesh, you can call me KV. I am a technology marketing person and an academician, but sometimes my friends mistake me for a technologist... I am actually a generalist. My dear friend Sajan suggested that I write on the site and hence I began writing on techno-commercial matters. I understood that I would be the odd man out, on that technology oriented site, but hey that would be a differentiator :-) My colleague and friend Gururaj BS (Guru, for short), suggested that I must have my blog to supplement my forthcoming book on marketing of information technology (IT) and hence now have started this blog.

A bit on my background...
I am a graduate in Electronics Engineering from Bangalore University, India, did my post graduation in Management (MBA) from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB), specializing in Finance and Marketing. I studied French at the Alliance Francaise de Bangalore as well. I have worked for nearly a dozen years in the IT industry - in various functions such as IT sales, software design and development, software product post sales support, software product technical marketing, productivity modeling & optimal bidding in software services business, product engineering programs and localization... I have also, for about half a decade, been teaching at various schools such as the IIMB (to second year MBA students), PC College of Engineering, Goa (to second year M.Tech students, May 2004) and The University of Michigan Law School (to senior post-graduate students of law, Apr 2006). I did speak to the MBA students of Department of Management Students, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, on the launch of IT products and services (Feb 2007). I am authoring a book tentatively titled "Marketing of Information Technology - concepts, IP, products and services", soon to be published by McGraw-Hill India. The book is in beta and Guru is reviewing the chapters.

My areas of interest include valuation of IT companies, Open Source, Information Technology (IT) pricing, Localization of IT, Intellectual Property Laws (IPR), Web 2.0 and E-Commerce.

In coming weeks, I will be making a few posts on some of the above topics. Meanwhile, you can also suggest a few topics of your choice, for me to blog. I will do so, if I have any knowledge on those topics. Until then, bye.

K Venkatesh

My GoodReads Bookshelf - The books I have read and found interesting...