James Governor's Monkchips

On Tailoring As a Model for Open Source business models (via gapingvoid)

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RedMonk is adopting open source as a model for industry analysis. The first question we get asked is “How are you going to make any money?” As if the only way you can make money is to sell something proprietary.

I have cited instructors using common teaching materials, breathing coaches (its true, people will pay other people to show them how to breathe more effectively), and editors.

A post from Hugh got me thinking about another excellent analogy – the Saville Row tailor. Thomas Mahon– the first blogging bespoke suit maker i know of–is not located in London, and so can keep costs down.

Tailors dont need proprietary designs to create beautiful expensive suits for their clients. They might cut a pocket slightly differently, or add a button. But its the tailoring that creates the value. That is, a tailor competes on the basis of implementation, brand and credibility. The same is going to be true of many businesses building around open source, including RedMonk.

Knitting patterns are another interesting one. Just because you can buy wool for a few quid, and find patterns to download, doesnt mean you actually will. Or look at Jaeger-which sells the wool, the patterns or completed sweaters based on them. It doesn’t go around suing people for knitting at home…

There are loads of open source models out there. You just have to look. They don’t don’t all foster the ludicrous profit margins we see in so many businesses today. But they are still good successful businesses that often provide their owners with far more quality of life than that found in Big Industries.

So this tailoring thing. You aren’t looking for a different suit, rather the one that fits you best, made out of your chosen cloth. That’s why they call it classic tailoring – because its not an immature rush to feature and fashion.

Good luck to Thomas. I am going to follow the tailoring blog and see how it goes. If i am right that open source won’t stop you making money then one day i may actually be able to buy one of his suits…


  1. Visionary post James! WSO2 has built a successful business by tailoring enterprise middleware to fulfill unique client requirements.

    1. thanks chris! and yes- you have.

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