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Has anyone made money from releasing their shareware as open source?

My Shareware program (or rather Commerical Program with a time limited demo) used to have sales of around $2,000 per month around 2002, but then I got busy at work and didn't have time to maintain it, so sales dwindled off to about $200 a month or less. I still get the odd sale now and again.

Recently whilst looking for a job I've spent months updating the software and I believe it's better than the competition, but after 2 months zero sales!

I think it may well be a sector that is in decline - my biggest competitor (who I think took some ideas from me) has 87,000 downloads on download.com - but only 87 in the past week so either less people are downloading this kind of program, or download.com is no longer as widely used.

I was reading about .Net Paint, which is free, but the user manual is on the website rather than a download, so he gets advertising revenue from people reading the user manual.

He says he is making $3,000 a month, but I'm a little sceptical, and also a paint program has a very wide potential userbase, my program is aimed at web developers so it's a little more specialised.

Just wondering really if anyone has succesfully made the transition from Shareware to OpenSource or Freeware and made anything out of it?

I once had a program that sold for $20 and I sold 2-3 copies per week. I the made it free, but asked users that appreciated it instead of sending me money, next time they are purchasing something from Amazon to use my affiliate link so that it doesn't cost them anything, but makes me a few cents. 9 years later I'm still waiting! Strange that people would pay $20 for a program, but wouldn't do that. So I am a little sceptical about donate buttons (unless you've got millions of downloads).

Obviously something as popular and mainstream as Firefox can generate significant advertising income (Millions of $s I read - I wonder how much of that went to the people who wrote it) but the open source "market place" seems a very crowded place these days to really stand out?

I'd be more than happy to give the whole thing away and make nothing out of it, if the mortage company will let us have the house for free, and the supermarket let us have food for free!
Aug 24 '08 #1
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1 Reply
Expert 4TB
Shareware and open source are two completely different business models. When you take your program and make it open source you are changing it so that your program now has a license that allows others to use, modify and change the program at will. In opensource you make money by selling services related to the product. In shareware you are selling the product after a certain demo period. The license says that you are free to give copies of the program to your friends but only the time bombed version, if they want the full version they will need to pay for it just like the original person did. You can additionally sell services related to the shareware software but many of the services people expect to come for free from a product they purchased.

The advantages to open source software are "many hands make light work" scenario in which a community of developers grows out of your product and they work to make it better and add functionality that is useful to them. Additionally since your product will cost nothing the user base may become much larger therefore if you sell services related to the product you have a larger community that may be interested in purchasing from you.
Sep 16 '08 #2

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