This Nissan assembly line in Canton, Ohio is a long way from the one Henry Ford built in 1908. Its $50 million dollar price tag adds thousands to the costs of every car that rolls off it.
Imagine how much your $25 thousand car would cost if the cost of the machinery in Canton was zero. I’m not talking about a cheap substitute. I’m talking about an assembly line that is better than its multimillion dollar counterpart in terms of both quality and economy.
If such a low-cost assembly line did exist, your car would cost 75% of what it does now. Moreover, it would be a better value since unnecessary investments in infrastructure could be targeted toward better performance, comforts, and greater gas mileage.
While free assembly lines in automobile manufacturing are a pipe-dream, free software assembly lines are not. They are called open-source solutions.
If you buy destination software from a company that designs and builds its own from the ground up, a significant part of your purchase goes to maintaining and protecting that company’s overhead and perpetuity. It goes toward research and development that the company needs to keep pace with inevitable changes in the larger technology universe that engulfs it.
In a universe that offers better and cheaper open-source solutions, expenses that only “keep pace” with what others take for granted are not justifiable in a resource scarce environment. Nor do they insure anything other than technology bloat in the form of artificially-inflated costs. Independent software is not superior because it is more expensive. Its not even popular or wide-spread. Independent software comprises the smallest fraction of the world’s technology market.
Worldwide, the bulk of all web and mobile software is open-source. Even the powerhouses like Facebook and Google use open-source code. In fact, one could easily argue that these companies are powerhouses because they make strategic decisions not to waste money reinventing wheels they can have for free.
Not only do the big guys get it, millions of smaller organizations get it too. Builtwith, a company that tracks “who, what and how many” in terms of technology use, shows clearly that independent software developers are such a minority as not to even register in usage surveys. What they found is that an independent destination provider supporting 200 installations shrinks compared to WordPress developers supporting 8 million––65 percent of the world’s largest sites. All this wouldn’t matter if we weren’t talking about assembly lines and their impact on quality and costs. While 600,000 unpaid developers are contributing to a shared WordPress community asset, independent coders are pushing the same boulders up the same hills using funds from unnecessary costs charged to cash-strapped clients.