Does Free Software Kill Markets?
The article I want to respond to is Free Open Source Kills Markets. He writes:
With continued flood of free open source (often Java) tools, XML tools market is mostly dead. Why should anyone pay for XML parsers, editors, databases, and servers?
Free open source software devalue commercial software and poisons the marketplace.
Why is this the case? Perhaps you could make the argument that freely available XML parsing tools harm writers of XML parsing tools. But everyone else who uses XML benefits by having high-quality professional grade tools available for free. Students can use XML in their projects easily, other free software projects can build better applications on top of standard XML APIs, Sun can incorporate the tools into Java itself, and software companies like the one I work for can use the code in our own product. In short, we can use resources we would've otherwise used to pay for closed, proprietary XML tools for making our products better. Who loses here?
Do XML tool authors lose? They seem not to, because they keep writing high quality open source tools (the SAX code is even public domain!) Making something a comodity does kill the market for that comodity, but as long as the code is being developed, no one is being hurt.