Open-source applications are not the best way to create a new business or make money, however in certain situations it can prove to be worth the trouble. An open-source application is created and offered out for free over the Internet rather than a closed-source application that is created and sold at a price with copyright laws in place. An example of a closed-source application is Microsoft Office which is sold and uploaded onto a desktop with a licensing code to be sure it isn't copied in any way. On the other hand Google Docs is an open-source application that anyone can use for free. The idea behind some open-source applications is that the brain power of millions together is much better than hundreds in one organization. An example is Wikipedia compared to Britannica encyclopedias. While encyclopedias are being outdated by the speedy Internet there are still arguments about which is more credible. Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at any time while there are a team of experts at Britannica that won't accept the help of others.
Microsoft goes to great lengths to be sure their software isn't copied, tampered with or even shared with other desktops. Microsoft is out to make money and they've done a great job at it. They create a very special product that most businesses need in order to view and alter emails with Word or Excel documents attached. If you don't own a copy of Microsoft Office then you won't be able to view or use any documents that a coworker, vendor or customer sends to your computer. Not only that but every single computer in the company must each have its own version installed. Microsoft offers a great product and should be able to sell it accordingly.
Google is known for making things and giving them away for free such as Google Earth, Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs. Google Docs was created in direct competition to Microsoft Office however the service by Google was offered for free! Simply sign into Google and start using the software free of charge. The interesting benefit is that coworkers can work on the same spreadsheet at the same time from different computers. Likewise, students can work together on a project from different homes. All who need to can be working on the same document together to be sure it gets done with more information and less mistakes. Forgetting the positives and negatives of each they both offer a very similar product while one is free and one is most certainly not.
At this point in the Internet world Google seems to think everyone deserves a certain amount of software for free. When MapQuest first came out it was an amazing new feature for everyone to get their hands on, but now it's just another tool we have and take advantage of. That goes for a lot of technology that has come about. When, however, Google creates something brand new you can expect to pay for that product or service.
While it seems like a complete waste of time for Google to do such a thing, but they're looking for a user base that exceeds any corporation or website in the world by offering things for free. As of now anyone can get a free email address, free online calendar, free document and spreadsheet capabilities, free maps and directions and even build a website for free for 1 year. That's how easy it is for Google to do the things some of us find nearly impossible.
Should Google charge for Google Docs like Microsoft? No. They're not only creating a massive user base to analyze but also creating trust and familiarity by offering such great products online for free. Had this been the first time Word documents and spreadsheets were created then they should've charged for it but it's not. Just like Google Maps wasn't the first online map created. Google is looking to be a one stop shop for all of its 70% of searchers. That doesn't mean that Microsoft should've just offered out their products for free 20 years ago because they had a one of a kind product. However, being this late as a competitor Google was almost forced to offer everything for free in order to compete. Who doesn't want to at least try a new product or service when it's completely free of charge?
(June, 2012). 21 of the Best Free to Download Closed-Source Applications. Retrieved from:
An Jay (August, 2008). 19 Most Essential Open Source Applications. Retrieved from:
Daniel Terdiman (December, 2005). Study: Wikipedia As Accurate as Britannica. Retrieved from: