Sunday, May 23, 2010

Re: How Could the NetBeans Team Make Money from the NetBeans Platform?

This is a reply to Geertjan's blog which wonders how could Oracle monetize the Platform: How Could the NetBeans Team Make Money from the NetBeans Platform?  .

The first thing I would like to see is the NetBeans Foundation which would be a central authority that cares about the future of the NetBeans Platform (and IDE, actually -- it makes no sense to have the Foundation just for the Platform).

Because when NetBeans was under Sun, the Platform wasn't seen as something worth monetizing. Under Oracle, we worried weather they will pull the plug or not (given Oracle has their own IDE and supports Eclipse too).

So, the first thing would be to have an actual entity in charge of this -- something legal, not some website or imaginary construct. This entity would want to get our money and will support itself in various forms: donations, support, stakeholder fees or various subscriptions.

Of course, we need some actual backing so we would still need actual companies on board: stakeholders.

Some of these stakeholders might need to pay, but I imagine it will be indirect: they will pay for developer time. Just as lots of companies employ developers to work on the Linux kernel, tools companies will employ developers to work on parts of the NetBeans Platform or NetBeans IDE.

Having a simpler and more modest entity in charge will also allow an ecosystem to form around the Platform and the IDE. I'm not sure Oracle will list my small company as a source to get official support for the Platform, but I'm pretty sure the NetBeans Foundation would (just as there are many companies offering various services around Postgresql, for example).

Now, the big question isn't how should NetBeans make some money. There are surely many ways: I'm working full-time just doing NetBeans Platform-related projects. Many other people are doing a living doing trainings or programming. My questions are:

How much does NetBeans actually cost and would we get enough stakeholders ? Except Oracle, who would get on board to pay either cash or developer time to keep NetBeans going? Because if only Oracle pays, they will be reluctant to allow the Foundation happen (actually they still might, for tax purposes). If NetBeans is a loss leader, can Oracle really afford losing total control ?

Any other solution that doesn't include the Foundation doesn't really interest me as I don't think NetBeans is making Oracle poor. They can always try to get as much money via training, support and other ways and just cover the difference out of the pocket to have their own IDE which may be seen a loss leader for other Oracle products (for example JavaFX).

Plus that now that Oracle owns Java and leads the JCP so they will always need some IDE to provide the reference implementations on: might as well be the OSGi-fied NetBeans.

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