[Lumiera] [CinCV] An announcement from Lightworks

Ichthyostega prg at ichthyostega.de
Fri Sep 9 00:49:37 CEST 2011

Am 08.09.2011 14:06, schrieb Raffaella Traniello:
> Today the Lightworks team made an announcement in Amsterdam. It is also in 
> the website: 
> http://www.lightworksbeta.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=122&Itemid=263

> All the announcement it is worth to be read because it tells about
> the company philosophy.

Ciao Raffaella!

thanks for the hands-up! Indeed, this long and detailed announcement is
really worth reading. IMHO this clarifies a lot of the remaining questions.

This is not Open Source, not even remotely. It is lacking all the crucial
elements and the spirit of open source. This is a company exploring new
marketing schemes and channels, which, as such, is fine. Part of their
strategy seems to be relying on the so called "open core" pattern,
which is quite en vogue lately with vendors of professionally
oriented software.

Here, an application framework, kernel, micro kernel, architecture backbone
or something similar is released under an Open Source license (preferably
one of Apache or BSD type, which allows to incorporate it into commercial
offerings). But for any really professional use of this software in the
respective business area, you'll need some additional, crucial components,
plug-ins or support facilities. And, most importantly, you need support and
training, to pick up the necessary skills to be able to "parametrise" and
use that software in an commercial setting with the typical tight timelines,
huge budgets and high risks.

While, initially, building up such a core is an major undertaking and
investment, the further maintenance and evolution of the core typically
turns out to be problematic within an commercially oriented environment:
Efforts directed towards the core and application foundation are often
perceived as "dead investment". Developers and engineers are constantly
pressed by the marketing department to focus their efforts towards user
visible and revenue generating features. Thus, the foundation and
backbone of all the generated revenue quickly becomes subject to
rot and decay.

The "open core" pattern helps to mitigate that self-destructive tendency:
- now, maintenance of the core can be justified as an marketing expense
- it helps increasing the visibility of the product ecosystem and
  widens the market for the additional (non-free) offerings.
- ideally, some volunteers help monitoring and improving the sanity of
  the core, thus freeing up resources within the company to be focussed
  towards the immediately revenue generating elements.
That's a nice "Win-Win-Win" situation

If you carefully read that announcement from EditShare, all the necessary
ingredients are present. There is an free offering, but several crucial
elements for working with any of today's professional media formats (even
AVCHD) are confined to the non-free offering. There is a product management,
and strategical decisions are done behind closed doors. The basic support is
provided by the "community" itself, while the commercial support will be sold
by a price tag one order of magnitude above the price of the basic subscription.
There are hardware based offerings in the usual price range for professional
gear. The "community" is kept closely coupled to a site operated and controlled
by the company, including an App store. Moreover, great effort is put into
smooth integration with "Flow Projects", i.e. the free offering is an entry
ticket into an integrated industrial solution. And, last but not least,
there is an "educational" offering to grow the future users of Lightworks

"...to make Lightworks accessible to those in education, as these members
will be future Lightworks champions"

"The Community, which will also be populated by EditShare employees,
will be the nexus for the rapidly growing number of professional users"

Please understand me right: none of the above is objectionable. It is
valid behaviour of an entity operating commercially and oriented towards
revenue. Just -- right here we're talking within the context of *real*
Open Source projects. And it is foreseeable, that Lightworks will try to
be precieved as "OpenSource", and thus we can expect Cinelerra, Lumiera,
Open Movie Editor, Kdenlive, PiTiVi, gstreamer, mlt, gmerlin,.... but
also projects like Blender to be compared with Lightworks. Honestly,
we should reject and defeat such an comparison, because it would be
the classical comparison of apples and oranges.

Another interesting question in this context is, if these new business
patterns where fertilised by the OpenSource movement? Personally I think
that's only partially true. For sure, OpenSource is now an *accepted*
alternative to closed and proprietary organisation of the development
process. But we shouldn't forget that in these areas where "open core"
now appears as an viable solution, beforehand there was a phase of
merciless and destructive competition within an basically limited
market. Just consider what it means when an editing solution, (or any
comparable professionally oriented product) formerly priced around
10k-100k, first gets offered as semiprofessional version about $1000,
and then one decade later you'd get something roughly comparable for
an annual subscription of $50.
This is a nice recipe for destroying your own source of revenue
for a short-hand advantage over your competitors. Well, putting it
that way is not entirely just, because none of these actors behaves
as they do based on conscientious and freely made choice. Rather, it
seems that it's something happening on a larger scale at several
places within our western societies. Which certainly has its
bright side and its dark side.

Hermann Voßeler
(aka "Ichthyo")

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