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[REBOL] Re: The future of Rebol - achieving critical mass

From: holger:rebol at: 21-May-2001 6:03

On Mon, May 21, 2001 at 12:15:52PM +0100, Geoff Caplan wrote:
> I have been bitten before by technically superior products with the wrong > marketing model - I invested in the Amiga and NextStep to name just two. A > lot of developers lost their shirts on NextStep.
NextStep: agreed. Amiga: actually the Amiga was a commercial success, for many years, with millions of units sold. In Europe it was the second-best selling platform, ahead of the Mac. In the US it was by far the best-selling platform for video applications. In the end it died because the company owning the technology went backrupt because of losses from its sales of (IBM-compatible) PCs running MS-DOS, not because of bad Amiga sales due to lack of marketing. Yes, Amiga marketing could have been better, but this was not the deciding factor. Up until the very end Amiga sales were still doing pretty well. After the death of Commodore the Amiga never recovered, mostly because of long court battles and incompetence and lack of vision among the new owners (Escom, Gateway). And, of course, Escom later went bankrupt because of losses in its PC sales as well...
> - First, I fear that RT will fail to achieve a critical mass of users > - Second, that they will fail to achieve a critical mass of libraries and > APIs
Valid concerns.
> It is hard to get a new language established, especially if it is based on a > paradigm that will be unfamiliar to most programmers (ie functional > programming). I suspect that it may be impossible if you charge hundreds of > dollars for the basic functionality in /Command.
/Command is primarily a server product targetted at companies, ISPs etc., not a consumer application. The consumer applications are /Core and /View for basic functionality, and both are free. Extended functionality for both is available using a shareware-like model (View/Pro and later Core/Pro), for hobbyists. /Pro products include the /Library component and are therefore open systems that can be arbitrarily expanded by users.
> Rebol is up against powerful, free environments like Perl / Python / PHP / > Ruby / Dylan / Lisp / Scheme / Guile etc etc. Most are Open Source. Rebol is > nice, but the source is closed and by charging for the basics it is entering > the market with a huge handicap, right from the start.
The basics (/Core and /View) ARE free.
> So far as I can see, commercial success in the software industry is all > about achieving a critical mass of users and generating Java style buzz. If > I were Carl and his backers, I would be giving away the full versions of > /Command, /View and the application wrapper, to get momentum going. > > I appreciate that this would take commercial courage, [...]
It is not so much a matter of commercial courage, but rather of resources. RT is a corporation with full-time employees, not a group of volunteers who work on the language an hour every day after their regular job. In a commercial setting it is pretty much impossible these days to develop a product for years without any revenues.
> I think it would be much the safest strategy. With a large and vibrant > community the future of Rebol would be assured, and they could be generating > much greater revenues from selling advanced servers and applications, > specialised libraries, an integrated IDE, and consultancy than they will > ever generate selling /Core to a tiny community.
We are not selling /Core at all. /Core is distributed free of charge, as is /View, in order to build a community, as you suggest. We are selling /View/Pro, /Command, /Express, runtime licenses, commercial licenses and other supporting material and services (consulting services through REBOL Consulting, books through REBOL Press etc). -- Holger Kruse [holger--rebol--com]