Original Article

Information Systems and e-Business Management

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 5-17

First online:

The single-vendor commercial open course business model

  • Dirk RiehleAffiliated withFriedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg Email author 

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Single-vendor commercial open source software projects are open source software projects that are owned by a single firm that derives a direct and significant revenue stream from the software. Single-vendor commercial open source at first glance represents an economic paradox: How can a firm earn money if it is making its product available for free as open source? This paper presents the core properties of single-vendor open source business models and discusses how they work. Using a single-vendor open source approach, firms can get to market faster with a superior product at lower cost than possible for traditional competitors. The paper shows how these benefits accrue from an engaged and self-supporting user community. Lacking any prior comprehensive reference, this paper is based on an analysis of public statements by practitioners of single-vendor open source. It forges the various anecdotes into a coherent description of revenue generation strategies and relevant business functions.


Open source Commercial open source Single-vendor open source Commercial open source business model Dual-licensing strategy Open core business model Business model Go-to-market strategy Open source sales Open source marketing Open source product management Open source licensing Software engineering Collaborative development