Flex wins the first round!

Laszlo Systems‘ Presentation Server was seen as the biggest competitor to Flex. Now it’s gone, well, sort of.

When you can’t sell your software, what do you do? You make it open-source and hope to sell support or training for it, and as a fringe benefit you cut development costs -hopefully some really smart(!)developers will do it for free.

LPS was a really expensive (maybe I should say ‘not affordable’) product, I don’t know the exact numbers but heard it was around $20,000. Then just before Flex 1.0 was released, Laszlo dropped the price to $2,000 for single CPU and offered free license for development and non-commercial use.

This new pricing was affordable, free developer license and non-commercial license should have created a demand and a user base. (Macromedia also announced that free Flex licenses will be granted for non-commercial use, most probably in response to LPS open-source move).

Obviously things were not going great at Laszlo and LPS is now free, even for commercial use. So behind the scenes, I think, LPS has died and revitalized as a free open-source zombie.

I never understood the enterprise market, I hope things go well for Laszlo from now on, Flex got the first round.

But I am really curious about one thing: Who was the last customer that purchased LPS before their big price reduction, and who was the last customer that paid 2k to LPS – and what are they thinking about all this now?

Isn’t this a good thing that, now people have a more affordable option than Flex, especially considering that Flex is currently not in the affordable price range for most of us?

I don’t know. Sure, it will be good for some. But probably Macromedia won’t consider a price reduction as early as they would have, now that LPS is gone to a different league. Flex is a better product IMHO.

Also, it’s no secret that I don’t like the ‘open-source’ concept a bit and find it really dangerous -even more than software piracy- for the future of software development.

Anyway, here are some links about the open source announcement, if you are interested in reading about how ‘Laszlo stands at the intersection of two of the most exciting trends in software: open source and rich Internet applications’: (So, should RIA developers also go open-source? Will Laszlo make the RIAs it develops -the LZX source- open-source too?)

http://www.laszlosystems.com/company/news/press_releases/pr_oct_04.php
http://www.davidtemkin.com/mtarchive/000006.html
http://osteele.com/archives/2004/10/open-laszlo
http://pt.withy.org/ptalk/archives/2004/10/laszlopen.html
http://www.buzzhit.com/2004/10/laszlo-goes-open-source-points-to.html

This entry was posted in Flex.

35 Responses to Flex wins the first round!

  1. b says:

    Open Source is always an option but I really don’t see the danger. Options are good. And I think its certainly a great move for Lazlo and really will make it a stronger competetor to Macromedia.

  2. I’ll write about the danger open-source poses as a separate post, when I find some time.
    Yes, I agree that it’s a great move for Laszlo, albeit a desperate one.
    But I don’t think Flex PS and LPS are in the same league anymore.
    Regards,
    Burak

  3. Maybe i misinterpret your post, and i haven’t studied the license Laszlo uses, but it seems you assume open-source software equals free software. In most cases, this is just plain wrong. For example, many open-source licenses restrict use of the code in commercial products by some means. In that case, dual licensing is used: The company offers a separate license for use in commercial environments, and money distribution and decisions are handled by a foundation (board members are the core developers and the software company). Similar models are widely used in the open-source community – with many big enterprises being involved and financing such projects, btw. Again, i don’t know about Laszlo, but it would surprise me if they’d take a different road. Open-source is just a different business model, and in no way a thread to anything. you certainly do not have to like it, noone is forcing you. but if you seriously think it’s a thread, then you should maybe reconsider your business model.

  4. “Also, it’s no secret that I don’t like the ‘open-source’ concept a bit and find it really dangerous -even more than software piracy- for the future of software development.”
    the more i think about it.. it’s quite amusing to hear those words from the creator of a software product that helps people to reverse engineer software.

  5. eokyere says:

    “the more i think about it.. it’s quite amusing to hear those words from the creator of a software product that helps people to reverse engineer software.”
    my thoughts exactly… now open source and reverse-engineering are different things… i’ve never bought ASV, and I have no use for it… but you’ll be lying to me if you tell me you expect the larger part of your customer base to be people who want to “legitimately” reverse-engineer their swfs

  6. tim says:

    I doubt that Laszlo could have built their Laszlo Presentation Server (LPS) platform without the knowledge of Macromedia. However, let it be noted that Laszlo had already distributed their LPS before Flex was even a product. I heard of “Royale”, after the software house at which I was contracting, picked up Laszlo as a RIA platform for several of their projects. With that said, I thought the LPS’ licencing cost were much too high for a brand new product that businesses in a brand new technology domain (Rich Internet Applications).

  7. Kengwei says:

    Personaly, I think no matter it is open source or not. The one that shows the most good works win it. In this case, I would say Laszlo won it. Check Laszlo’s demo application. (Sorry, I have not seen as many good examples from MM)
    Seeing is believing.

  8. Alex Bradley says:

    While I disagree with you about the fundamental benefits of OSS, I do agree with certain commentators that suggests this announcement has an air of desparation. IMHO the only reason to move to an OSS is to be able to quickly provide features and benefits not possible in-house.The only necessity for doing so is when you cannot move enough units to justify doing the work in-house. However, providing your source code as an mis-labeled 180MB tar file does not signal that this was a well-planned move.
    Additionally, the problem for Laszlo Systems is that the ‘selling’ aspect does not go away – LPS still has to be ‘sold’, but this time to enough developers (i.e. they have to convince developers to donate time and effort) to enhance and fix the product. While I never used the product personally, I always thought that it was a good idea implemented very badly. Anyone who played with the Laszlo Explorer would have noticed that even the simplest of animations take up 10s of KB, and very simple applications are frequently in the 500KB mark. While I haven’t dug into the source code too much, there is much to despair over especially the JGenerator integration and the AS1.0 compiler (that uses Jython and wraps all function code in ‘with’ statements). LPS requires a full rearchitecture – keep the lovely looking components,the servlet engine, and throw away the rest of the engine. Unfortunately, I think this leaves LPS is a worse situation that 2 days ago since potential users will adopt a wait-and-see approach as to whether external developers will take to the project. Personally, I can’t see the OSS community getting involved in a significant level until this rearchitecting process is complete, which would mean that Laszlo are stuck continuing development on their own but with no guaranteed revenue stream any more.
    I hope I’m wrong as I think that the RIA market could really do with good OSS products to stimulate it.

  9. Here’s a great post by Steven Webster (unlike me, he really knows about Flex and supports open-source):
    http://www.richinternetapps.com/archives/000074.html
    And here’s a link to eokyere’s post:
    http://blogs.okyere.org/resolve/archives/000056.htm
    Claus, the license is CPL 1.0 and as far as I can see, LPS is as free as it gets now. Laszlo will now focus on commercial LZX development and they’re even hiring.
    (When DENG went open-source, how did your existing customer feel? [though I admit I don't know which licensing you use])
    I believe open-source business models are not fair and this will eventually harm everybody. It’s not a treat for my business now or in the near future, and it’s not my specific business I’m concerned about most, when I say I don’t like open-source. But as I’ve said, I’ll make this a separate post.
    eokyere, yes, our customers make legit use of ASV though I admit some are peeking some SWFs they shouldn’t out of human nature, but not stealing.
    Why? Because thieves don’t pay for software. They use cracked copies or even try making a fraud purchase, which gets refunded in the end.
    ASV is not a very expensive software at $60, we have to sell lots of copies to stay in business. If you say most of our customers are ill intended people, there’s no way I can believe or accept that. On the contrary, I believe, apart from a few black sheep, all of our customers use our software for legit purposes.
    Tim, Flex is still a new product at its 1.0 version. Before 1.5 or 2.0, LPS might still be a viable option. I believe that LPS was expensive and Flex currently is (‘expensive’ meaning ‘not affordable for most’). I think we need more affordable licensing models for enterprise software which could be used by small (or tiny) business.
    Kengwei, seeing is believing, agreed. But LPS was around a long time before Flex. Lets see what the moves of the both companies brings…
    Regards,
    Burak

  10. klaut says:

    i don’t quite agree that open source software is a danger for the future of software development.. actually i think its quite the contrary.. but i just wanted to post a comment regarding eokyere’s comment (did i just do a recursion here? commenting a comment of a comment.. ;) )
    anyway, i bought ASV and i found it a great product.. and i never used it to crack a swf that was not mine.. also i would believe that the ones that payed for ASV are using it exclusively for decompiling their own movies.. because let’s face it… if i wanted to steal swfs i wouldn’t have bothered to pay for a product when i can get a cracked version …
    just my 2 cents.
    regards,
    tanja

  11. Hi Alex,
    Thanks for the comment.
    ‘the problem for Laszlo Systems is that the ‘selling’ aspect does not go away – LPS still has to be ‘sold”
    Very interesting, and I think you’re right.
    Also let me clarify that my objection is not to all OSS but mostly to ‘absolutely free OSS’.
    Regards,
    Burak

  12. Hi Tanja,
    Thanks for the comment.
    Sam Neff recently posted about how he used ASV to find out differences between 2 SWF files:
    http://www.rewindlife.com/archives/000194.cfm
    Peter Hall posted about other uses earlier.
    ASV is not a hacker/cracker tool, and it was not designed as such a tool. But I can see how people can come to a quick conclusion when they see some ‘dangerous’ features there…
    And thanks for your ASV purchase again.
    Regards,
    Burak

  13. eokyere says:

    my comment on ASV was probably out of context… no attack meant… apologies… on-topic though, which part of the “FREE” do you really hate, Burak… is it “FREE as in beer”, or having the “freedom of choice”.
    do you (or any of your developers) run eclipse, or software built on that platform? that’s a good example of CPL-ed software… people can still make money off software written to/atop it; as claus mentioned, it’s the license you opt for, in the case where you have dual licenses as in the case of MySQL AB, that determines this in the end.
    as i mentioned on my blog, going Open source, doesn’t mean developers now HAVE to choose based on cost… rather it means if cost has been a hindrance in the past, it is not so anymore… also, people get to peek at the code; sometimes, that alone is enough to ignite interest… the more important point is that if this move pulls a lot more people into the RIA space, everybody wins… it means a larger RIA market, which means more demand for both Flex and Laszlo; which means Flex could be cheaper; which means more bugs could be detected/reported (at/to both camps); which means more new uses for the technologies have the potential of coming up; it all starts with moves to increase developer interest; moves like laszlo going open source, and macromedia releasing free (non-commercial) licenses
    - eokyere

  14. “When DENG went open-source, how did your existing customer feel?”
    we got positive feedback without any exception. our customers now have the legal right to actively help pushing things forward and participate in the development – a major plus, and a win-win-situation.
    “though I admit I don’t know which licensing you use”
    GPL

  15. Hi eokyere,
    I believe that sometimes free software (as in free beer) is not a good thing, sometimes open source is not a good thing. When they both come together, generally the result is not a good thing. Because it changes how you make business and I find some parts of that really dangerous. No I don’t hate it, and it’s not because I want status quo and resent the change.
    It’s because I think things are going for worse rather than better. (It’s the same with my views on XHTML W3C recommendation. I think it’s clearly worse than HTML).
    Anyway, I’ll have another post about FOSS as soon as I find some time -just to make my statement and have it recorded.
    We don’t use any CPLed software directly. But, for example, this blog is hosted at TypePad, I don’t know if they’re using any CPLed software so we might be making use of them indirectly.
    Thanks for the comments.
    Regards,
    Burak

  16. Hi Claus,
    GPL seems a better choice than CPL.
    Glad to hear that you had positive feedback.
    But If I had purchased LPS at 2K a month before it went open source, I’d be quite angry. Not only because of the money – for I would get it back, still an inconvenience – but also because I would have invested a month in a technology I thought will be available only to limited set of developers who can pay the 2K – I’d have lost my edge.
    Thanks for the comments.
    When I had my first rant about ‘Web Standards’ I thought ‘Web Standards=W3C’. And I wasn’t aware of the design decisions W3C made about XHTML recommendation. Now I’m much more informed – though I needn’t had to change where I stand.
    Probably I’m quite ignorant about F/OSS too. I’m just learning about different licenses and what they mean. But I have a general idea what’s going on – and I don’t like some of it at all.
    Comments make me think, reconsider and research. Thanks again.
    Regards,
    Burak

  17. DrDreff says:

    I’d like to respond to a couple of the points raised above. I’ll rant on my blog :)
    “GPL seems a better choice than CPL”
    That all depends on who is most likely to embrace and extend your software. When making these choices you need to make sure that the license grants the proper freedoms to the community. Many believe that APL or BSD are better choices. CPL is a good compromise that doesn’t rely on the shifting sands of “current copyright law” as the GPL does.
    “But If I had purchased LPS at 2K a month before it went open source, I’d be quite angry.”
    Laszlo has quotes from their current customers who did pay for the software that counter your arguement. I’m sure that those customes take solace in the fact that they now know that the platform will continue to be supported and developed regardless of the business status of Laszlo.
    You made a point about the changes created by open source and gratis software. The whole industry is changing and it has been for the last 15 years. Proprietary and closed source software came after open source. We just didn’t call it that back then. Software was a science before it was a business.
    There’s been a recurring thing about this being a desparate move for Laszlo. They’re hiring as was pointed out previously. The deparation seems to be coming more from Macromedia. Why else whould they choose to start giving away their product? They also chose a dubious day for it…
    The histories and personalities of these two companies are intertwined. Macromedia obviously caught wind of Laszlo’s move and tried to counter it.
    Flex didn’t win anything. Flex showed up to the game late and Laszlo just upped the stakes. When it comes to choosing a language now you have to decide on closed source mxml or open source lzx.
    You also choose between Flash lockin for good or the potential for other runtimes. At this moment you choose between Flash 5,6, and 7 support or Flash 7 only.
    Will Flex 2.0 support Flash 7? Or will Macromedia rev the player to support the new features, locking you into 8?
    Then what about having to throw away everything when Microsoft locks you into XAML. It will take a few years, but all of the time and code invested in mxmxl will be tossed when you have to make *that* move. Laszlo’s solution is designed to be future-proof.

  18. Hi DrDreff,
    I liked GPL better than CPL, because it’s more restricted. CPL seems totally free. (On a lighter note, GPL is ‘viral’ see: http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=18919 ).
    I might be wrong about everything, but if something I pay 2K is free the next day, I’d be really upset – and I’ll really think that something’s wrong with you if you wouldn’t be upset. Of course, there is one situation I won’t be that upset: If this is in fact a desperate move and the alternative is no further development and support. In any case, I don’t think this is fair at all. If LPS was open source from the start, that would be fair. I think this was not ethical, unless the alternative was killing the product.
    Yes, software was not commercial in the beginning, and it’s my hobby too. If it gets back to being a hobby, then I won’t be able to earn my life doing what I like most.
    Laszlo is hiring, but they’re looking for a LZX programmer. Maybe they’re hiring 1 LZX programmer but has laid off 10 LPS developers already- I mean that doesn’t mean anything.
    ‘The desperation seems to be coming more from Macromedia. Why else would they choose to start giving away their product?’
    Are you serious? Laszlo is the one giving away their software and with source. Flex is free for non-commercial use only. Laszlo made that move earlier. Macromedia is just doing aggressive marketing – and that’s very reasonable. If you have unfair competition, you got to let people know more about your product.
    Even I made the same mistake, I thought Flex PS and LPS were similar products technically. But they aren’t. Flex is much better. I think MM is aware that people see LPS as a technically similar quality alternative and, of course, act on this, just like Laszlo acted on Flex’s release. But Flex was not a response to LPS – it’s a product, something that was requested from Macromedia for a long time and something that fits Macromedia product line naturally.
    Why didn’t Laszlo’s free non-commercial licensing work? LPS was way cheaper… Because Flex is the better product (The ‘hello world’ sample of LPS is 220KB and it’s SWF 5!). I can’t blame Laszlo though, MM probably have a lot more resources…
    Flex 1.5 is on its way, it will only get better.
    OK, there you have a point, LPS is future proof – if people bother to update it. Commercial products may die, on the other hand as a zombie, LPS can’t. But who knows what the future will bring?
    (I’ll send you an email after I [write and] post my ‘free open source is evil’ article. I just don’t have time to write more currently).
    Regards,
    Burak

  19. DrDreff says:

    If I were a non-profit and I paid $12K for a product that was free the next day I’d be upset too.
    I think this was not ethical, unless the alternative was killing the product.
    How is it unethical to to the right thing for your company, the industry *and* your customers. When you pay for any license, what do you really get? Some support, the right to use it (for some period of time in some situations) and a CD. Laszlo has just removed the license fee from the equasion. If you don’t want support you don’t pay for it. How is that at all unethical? As for killing the product, you can’t build a business supporting a dead product.
    just like Laszlo acted on Flex’s release. But Flex was not a response to LPS – it’s a product, something that was requested from Macromedia for a long time and something that fits Macromedia product line naturally.
    What response are you talking about? As for Flex being a natural fit, I think you’re forgetting the realities of the days during which Flex was begun. The PR from MM at the time was that Flash was the best tool for building next generation web apps. A programming interface was never considered a viable product until Laszlo proved there was a demand for it. Check the history on this .
    Because Flex is the better product (The ‘hello world’ sample of LPS is 220KB and it’s SWF 5!).
    Heh, that’s disengenuous. 220K is an uncompressed size. If you’re still using a browser that doesn’t support mod_gzip you need Flash 5 support for sure. Delivered size to 99% of browsers is 81K. The homepage app that they have up is 172K. The SWF5 thing is on purpose. SWF6 is still a few points behind SWF5. Flash 5 came standard on WinXP and most people don’t upgrade such things unless they have to. XP SP2 comes with Flash 6 so the penetration number will be coming up with time.
    Flex 1.5 is on its way, it will only get better.
    How do you know that? MM has a history of adding as many bugs as they fix.
    I’ll send you an email after I [write and] post my ‘free open source is evil’ article.
    This is probably why we will never see eye to eye. If you truely believe that then we can’t possibly agree. Youll attribute this to the worst case scenario and move on.
    BTW if it is evil, then you’d better get this site off of the evil free and open Apache. TypePad is build on evil free open Perl, OpenSSL is also installed on your server, get rid of that free, open, evil thing. TypePad uses evil, open, free MySQL or PostgreSQL. Looks like you have it all running on the ultimate evil Open free Linux.
    Got some housecleaning to do it seems…

  20. Some Guy says:

    About the speculation, above, that Laszlo’s move to open source must have pissed off its existing customers:
    The assumption here is that Laszlo was too stupid to let its customers know what was coming down the pike. Non-disclosure agreements were created for situations like this. I would expect that customers were informed because certainly they are are on board. See Laszlo’s press release, for example, or check out their website.
    It would seem wise to let the customers speak for themselves, rather than to do their thinking for them and figure out what they should be thinking.

  21. ‘If I were a non-profit and I paid $12K for a product that was free the next day I’d be upset too.’
    Absolutely. I think the right thing to do for Macromedia is to refund their money in this case.
    ‘How is it unethical to do the right thing for your company, the industry *and* your customers.’
    You pay for something and the next day it’s free for all. You invest in a technology, say, 2K and your few months to have an edge against competitors but the next day the tech is available to the kid next door for free – and with source! Why I call this unethical is because I don’t know about the laws. If I were making the laws, I would classify this action as ‘fraud’.
    Software is different because duplication costs are negligible. But it’s not that different! Everything has a cost whether tangible or intangible, you add your profit margin and sell a product. Sure, the software I sell, for example, includes support and some customers never need it. So I’d agree that it’s possible for us to sell the software without support and sell the support for an additional fee. But the software, as it is, has a cost and it’s the main thing (as you can’t sell support without the software) – if I make the software free and charge for only support that won’t be fair. Actually the price of our software does not cover our support costs but we do it for free (from a business point of view) because we can, we don’t receive that many support requests. What’s more, we (and all our customers) benefit from support requests because we use the info for improving our products (we provide all minor updates and the next major update free, in the worst case).
    I don’t say that free (or open source or both) software should be made illegal. I can see short term benefits. But I also see the long term danger to software development and as a result to humanity. So, I say it should be regulated.
    ‘What response are you talking about?’
    Sorry, I guess your rant was on my mind when I wrote that (‘Flex was a response to Laszlo.’).
    ‘The PR from MM at the time was that Flash was the best tool for building next generation web apps.’
    And you expected anything else? True or not, words from any company PR should be taken with caution.
    ‘A programming interface was never considered a viable product until Laszlo proved there was a demand for it.’
    I don’t know. It seems a fairly basic idea to me to have an XML compiler and a server product. Macromedia is the owner of the SWF format, though LPS is potentially not SWF specific, Macromedia seems like the best candidate to implement such software. What you say may be true and in fact may be why both products conceived as rivals in the first place.
    ‘The SWF5 thing is on purpose’
    OK, I take your word for it. But SWF5 does not support video, etc. LPS needs to be updated when the time comes.
    ‘Flex 1.5 is on its way, it will only get better.
    How do you know that? MM has a history of adding as many bugs as they fix.’
    Macromedia has changed. They are now very developer (customer) oriented. They talk about betas openly, invite as many people to betas, have product managers for developer relations etc. And Flex is a fairly new product, still being worked on. I wasn’t referring to bugs – which are inevitable – but to new features.
    ‘BTW if it is evil, then you’d better get this site off of the evil free and open Apache.
    …’
    It was only a catchy title – but I do believe it will bring more harm in the long term than the benefits we have today (certain conditions apply). To make it clear, my case resembles this: You can use CFC (ChloroFluoroCarbons) today and it seems it’s working and cost less, but you’ll get an hole in the Ozone layer later if you use it too much.
    I will make use of F/OSS software when available and suits my needs too. There lies the danger. (But more about this later).
    Regards,
    Burak

  22. DrDreff says:

    >>It seems a fairly basic idea to me to have an XML compiler and a server product.
    It seems basic now. The idea was new in 2000 when Laszlo was formed.
    On the rest… We’ll have to agree to disagree.
    You make your living off of selling closed source software licenses. You understand *that* business and OSS thereatens much of that model. Thomas Edison put a lot of lamplighters out of business, how ethical was that?
    I must take exception to the CFC==OSS point though. It’s not a parallel that can be drawn. I await your “why FOSS is evil” post so that I can better understand your view.

  23. ‘It would seem wise to let the customers speak for themselves, rather than to do their thinking for them and figure out what they should be thinking.’
    In principle, you are right. And I can’t really speak for them and say why they’re not talking much about how pissed off they are… :)
    Seriously, I don’t think it’s wrong to tell what I would do or how I would feel if I were in their situation.
    If the customers quoted did pay for LPS, AND, if the alternative was not LPS being killed, then I’d very much like to make business with them, I may get into business of selling bridges or the Eiffel Tower :)
    Laszlo may have made LPS open source to its customers – that would’ve made sense, and they would’ve provided all open source benefits to a closed community. But a CPL – not even GPL – certainly implies Laszlo was not in a position to support and develop LPS as they used to.
    So my point is that LPS was dead already – and revitalizing it by making it open source or in whatever way seemed OK to (at least some of)the customers who paid for LPS.
    I am also deducing (the fact that this was a desperate move) from customer reaction (as presented), rather than doing the thinking for them.
    Regards,
    Burak

  24. Hi DrDreff,
    Thanks for commenting.
    ‘It seems basic now. The idea was new in 2000 when Laszlo was formed.’
    Agreed. I don’t know for sure, but as I accepted in my earlier comment, you may be right that Laszlo proved that there’s a market for ‘Presentation Server’s.
    ‘Thomas Edison put a lot of lamplighters out of business, how ethical was that?’
    IMHO your analogy is not correct here. We are selling closed software but any immediate or near future danger for us is from other closed software vendors. If a competitor comes up with a better app than ours (open source or not, – ideas can’t be patented ) and makes us go out of business, I won’t consider this unethical. But if that vendor is not charging for the software and subsidizing it by other means, that would be unfair competition and unethical. (See MS IE).
    ‘I must take exception to the CFC==OSS point though. It’s not a parallel that can be drawn.’
    The only parallel I was implying was that both seem OK and have benefits in the short term, and both (as I believe) pose a greater harm in the long run. [It was to make my point clearer with an example, I know this is not a commonly accepted fact]
    Regards,
    Burak

  25. DrDreff says:

    The desparation thory and the upset customer theory can only be disproven with time. When Laszlo starts wolling out new features to the comminity developed from the inside it will disporve the zombie product point. When current customers roll out follow on apps it will disprove that one as well.
    “See MS IE”
    Now I think I get it. There’s a major difference between current industry OSS trends and what MS did. The biggest problem was that they were bundling IE with Windows and were not allowing OEMs to change the browser. Giving something away and subsidizing the development by other means is nowhere near unethical (retail calls it a loss leader). Is giving away Quicktime unethical? Real used to sell a player… Using a monoploy position in one market to damage competition in another is illegal.
    We’re all entitled to our beliefs though.

  26. ‘The biggest problem was that they were bundling IE with Windows and were not allowing OEMs to change the browser.’
    Yes, that was a big problem. But my point is different and a bit subtle.
    Let me try with another example: In many countries there is a limit on the price for a gift to the president (or the prime minister). Are gifts unethical? No. But when a gift gets really expensive, there’s a danger and it’s not because the president is cheap or can be bought with a present.
    Likewise, a small free and open source software is OK. But if it is something that needs, say, $800K to develop for a competitor and you make it free – I think this is unhealthy for the industry, who will spend that much to confront a free product? Not many and healthy competition goes away. (And they create the real lock-ins, if you ask me).
    Of course, this is not that simple – something you pay for today may become the de facto free standard with all future OSes.
    ‘Giving something away and subsidizing the development by other means is nowhere near unethical’
    I don’t think this is a black and white issue. It may be ethical or it may be not.
    Also, I must admit that many things I consider ‘unethical’ are not ‘illegal’ at all.
    But beyond ethics, I consider any -however small- such subsidizing in any industry unhealthy.
    Regards,
    Burak

  27. DrDreff says:

    FWIW Laszlo has just secured additional funding.
    The story is here: http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/10-13-2004/0002275459&EDATE=
    Starts to punch some holes in the “desperation” theory…
    It also shows that VCs are behind the OSS strategy.

  28. Hi,
    Thanks for the info.
    That changes everything. Indeed, I entirely agree that, this shows VCs are behind the OSS strategy. They won’t give a cent in a few days – the deal must have been going on for some time.
    This also shows that RIAs are getting really hot.
    Still, I think, going open-source was the only way out they saw to deal with Macromedia and Flex. (And as you know I think it’s unfair).
    I don’t like VCs (I tend to read the ‘V’ as ‘Vulture’). So this ‘unethical’ move seems originated from them – just as I would expect. (I mean, I never had any bad feelings about Laszlo before the OSS move, they have great people there).
    I can speculate more about desperation – but that would be just that: speculation.
    I don’t know the motives of the VCs – normally they would want their ROI very quickly, maybe they already somewhat own Laszlo now.
    I hope the best for people at Laszlo. The fact remains that, this has been an unethical move to existing LPS customers and to the industry because it is creating unfair competition. And I know that life is not fair, whether I like it or not.
    Regards,
    Burak

  29. DrDreff says:

    Justa quick point about unfair competition . By open sourcing their platofrm, Laszlo has created a much broader base of competition for thos developers who seek to create RIAs. Macromedia may not see it as fair to have an OSS alternative to their expensive product. But I’d also wager that MM is not playing on a level fied with their ability to throw massive amounts of money into a project.
    F/OSS creates new competition in new spaces that is entirely fair. That’s the way of progress though, some markets open, others close. The buggy whip analogy is often used becase it points to the progress of technology and competition for sectors. I can understand your rejection of that analogy because we’re talking about business models not differing tecnology.
    As for VCs yeah they would have to know about OSS probably as soon as Laszlo started on it. I’ve seen VCs take 6-9 months before investing. So they knew for sure. VCs have also invested in F/OSS companies like Mandrake, RedHat, JBoss…

  30. Flex 1.5 will be available in November, and will be announced later today:
    http://news.com.com/Macromedia+stretches+Flex%27s+features/2100-1012_3-5412427.html

  31. Hi DrDreff,
    SAP licenses Flex…
    http://www.internetweek.com/allStories/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=161600612
    Laszlo support costs $15000 to $35000 per year…
    http://www.laszlosystems.com/services/support/technical_support.php
    Also Flex price was increased on April 1st (was not a joke, but sounded like one for those of us who thought Flex is not affordable:( ).
    Life goes on…
    Regards,
    Burak