Sorry, We're Clopen Source

My brilliant colleague Carrie Byrne came up with the title of this post and the term. I'm just the messenger.

Clopen source is the spirit of open-source application creation -- crowdsourcing, product development by a vocal community, free sharing of information to encourage innovation separate of a technology provider -- with very strict boundaries that ensure the profit of the key patent-holders. The key boundary is the device that holds the applications.

Clopen source means more than just having a community of users contribute to the success of a technology or device. It requires mechanisms for profit as part of its motive. And it requires purchase of a specific product or service to play ball. This ain't your father's UNIX, which is really the last frontier for true open source goodness.

Apple Software Development Kit (SDK) for the iPhone? Clopen source. More apps on their phone means more minutes used, more iPhones sold, and more SDKs sold to third parties. Create a community that develops apps for you, then monetize it. This has been the game on all smart device platforms, until Android came along.

Google's Android OS for smart devices. At first, doesn't seem like clopen source. Google is making the device OS 100% open source for developers, but the platform still needs to be monetized. So, who wins here? Phone sellers push more units at similar prices to Windows Mobile phones without paying for licensing, while Google makes more money off mobile search and advertising tied into the apps. This would be clopen source at its heart. You can't just give it away.

Free code, or even full applications, that drive your Web site? Clopen source. Using the code encourages the adoption of a specific server-side technology and the use of a development platform. Just choose your flavor and its overall software cost to you.

Neuros OSD, which lets you archive your DVD and video content? Clopen source. The box runs on Linux and Neuros encourages developers to improve the device's feature set. But it's a closed community, and you have to fork over for the box to play ball.

I don't think there's anything wrong with clopen source. It seems to be the best way to make money off interactive technologies in today's "free economy."

In many ways, clopen source is the great hope of keeping ahead of the curve and advancing the next killer app. By having product audiences have access to personally improving company technologies, and allowing those companies to absorb that learning into their own products, will have massive impacts on the speed of technological growth in immature markets like mobile computing, smart device generation, and other technologies that blur the lines between product categories.

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See the full post at http://changeorder.typepad.com/weblog/2008/03/sorry-were-clop.html

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