Open Source Software: an Inferior Good

2 October 2008
Image from “Romance gets a market correction”Please have a  read of Steven Vaughan-Nichols’ blog Lets Talk Cheap Software.  The comments are especially good.His point is that, in these turbulent times, expensive software licenses and contracts are not the place to put your money.  If cash is now king (but hasn’t it always been?) it is better to trade effort for a product than cash.  With open-source software, their is little cash outlay but you do have to spend the time to learn how to use it.

Like most inferior goods (I’m using inferior in the economic sense – see wikipedia definition here), open source software may not be seen as an attractive option when times are good.  When you feel rich, you have options.  It is easy to throw money at a problem and buy the expensive stuff and the consultants to install it.  On the other hand, when times are bad, throwing money may not be an option and is likely a dumb move in any case.  Its in the bad times that open source software is an especially attractive choice.

This doesn’t mean that you have to put up with something less, just something different.  An attitude adjustment is required.  Like in the article in The Globe And Mail today “Romance gets a market correction“, don’t worry that because you can’t afford expensive dinners any more, your marriage will suffer.  If you think back to when you were young and at the beginning of your relationship, those were happy times.  “You were pretty close to broke, but you were having fun.”

MJM Consulting – Helping companies grow.