More Firms Embracing the Use of Open Source Software

By Mawhorr, S. A. | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

More Firms Embracing the Use of Open Source Software


Mawhorr, S. A., Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: S. A. Mawhorr Daily Herald Business Writer

It used to be that companies would give away pens or notepads imprinted with their names.

Then you'd know who to call if you needed new a contractor or another supplier and you'd have the phone number handy.

In a sophisticated twist on this humble form of marketing, Vernon Hills-based Web Den Interactive is giving away software

"We don't have $100 million to buy T.V. spots," said JT Smith, director of technology at Web Den. "But there are millions of people developing, using and loving open source software."

The idea is that if you decide to download Web Den's software off the Internet for free and you find it useful, you might come back to them and pay for services such as customization or training.

True to the open source standard, Web Den doesn't get paid when someone downloads their software and they'll never really know just who is downloading it or how many people are using it.

But Web Den isn't worried about getting paid each time its software is acquired because the company got its money's worth when the program solved a long standing problem.

Web Den is a subsidiary of Lake Forest-based Brunswick Corp., which was having trouble exchanging information electronically with the small dealerships that sell its Sea Ray and Bayliner boats.

So the software engineers wrote code that allows desktop computers at the dealerships to exchange data with the more sophisticated and older computer system at Brunswick.

They call it the "business integration engine" and they released it on the Web because they figure there are plenty of small businesses out there who'd like to do business with big boys like Brunswick, a Fortune 500 company with $3.7 billion in sales last year, but just don't have sophisticated enough computers to communicate.

"Suddenly, smaller companies have a chance to get bigger business," Smith said.

Web Den's marketing ploy is just one way the business world is exploiting open source software.

Open source software is available for free on the Web and the most popular pieces have become mainstays of our cyber landscape such as Adobe's Acrobat Reader used to read files sent electronically, often as attachments to e-mail messages. …

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More Firms Embracing the Use of Open Source Software
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