Paul Sterne

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Top Stories by Paul Sterne

In the beginning, the 800-pound gorilla of online industry was Prodigy, Inc. This joint venture between IBM and Sears Roebuck boasted 2.5 million subscribers in 1993, the year before Netscape broke open the Internet. From the very beginning Prodigy was out-marketed by AOL. AOL boasted a number of important unique selling propositions (USPs) like personalized user IDs, chat, and a slicker graphical user interface. But most importantly, AOL put itself forward as the force of online purity, the opponent of crass commercialization, and promised to protect users from the aggravation of advertising. Prodigy tried innovation after innovation to regain its coolness. It was the first to add a browser that could surf the emerging Web. It directed its users to a weird new search engine called Yahoo!. It introduced online role-playing and parlor games. But it could never shake... (more)

Enterprise Open Source Conversion Model Explored!

The central issue in any Open Source business model is how to convert software that is free on the Internet into revenue that can be booked under US GAAP, hence the term invented by some clever person, "Conversion Model." The issue boils down to how to convert the free stuff developed by volunteers into cash? Linus Torvald invented the first conversion model. By owning the Linux trademark, he has maintained control of brand and parleyed that control into worldwide celebrity. Celebrities make money in lots of ways - when you become a celebrity they will let you in on their secret... (more)

Linux.SYS-CON.com: The Conversion Model

The other day my 16-year-old daughter came down the stairs in tears. She was holding the new version of the Scholastic Attitude Test and complaining that it was unfair. Look at this question, Dad. Who could answer a question like this?" I looked at the question and had to agree that it was a tough one: 27. Lamb: wolf;    Open Source Project: ________________? a.  Microsoft b.  Enterprise software vendor c.  419 scammer* d.  Jack Messman (For additional information on 419 scammers, refer to www.419eater.com/html/trophy_room.htm.) "Honey, it has to be A. Everyone knows that Microsoft ... (more)

SugarCRM - A Sweet Mix of Commercial and Open Source

I've always wondered where the word "oxymoron" came from. What does "oxy" have to do with "moron"? What about the words "commercial" and "open source"; do these words form an oxymoron when combined in one phrase? The open source-based CRM software maker, SugarCRM, has successfully combined these polar opposites and implemented such a "commercial open source" business model. SugarCRM has taken its business model to a new level in that they have combined an enterprise server software sales model with that of a software-as-a-service model. Of course, SugarCRM offers its software for ... (more)

Open Source Business Models Examined

At LinuxWorld Expo in San Francisco, it occurred to me that I had overlooked a very important Open Source business model, the Membership Model. Confronted by a keynote speech by Stuart Cohen, the leader of the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) (www.osdl.org), it became clear that I had jumped into the Advertising and Conversion Models too quickly and had to back up and deal with the membership phenomenon. As a businessman, the Advertising and Conversion Models are more interesting, but from a raw power standpoint the Membership Model may be more important. So in the spirit of j... (more)