I have this problem… whenever I see some commercial service demonstrated, I start to think of the alternatives to it. Why is that?
I got a demo of an interesting service recently, and the first thing I thought to myself was “hmmm, this is really similar to what I had running in Drupal two years ago” and then I thought about how the service could be cloned with a few Drupal modules and a few days of hacking. I was relatively sure WordPress also had similar plugins to attain the feature set. (I’m probably underestimating the amount of work, but we tend o do that sometimes, don’t we?)
Don’t get me wrong, the service I saw was not without value… it had great value! But the support for the service was probably the number one value. I mean, the software wasn’t magical (it may have some magical stuff on the inside or on the backend filter that I didn’t see) but the basic functions were not in any way amazing. For someone who doesn’t want to think about it, and outsource all the technical voodoo to someone else, it would probably appear pretty damn amazing, so if that’s you, then yes, it was amazing.
At that point I start to wonder… should they have built their product on top of any open source platform like Drupal, and then build things on top of the plumbing it provides? Expertise, customization, support, hosted services… and on and on.
Maybe it’s the whole “we have tiers, it’s $XX per month, or $XXX per month or $XXXX per month depending on the features you want” where I start to think that cloning it would be a great idea for someone, because somewhere, somehow, there’s always someone who wants to build it themselves, or modify it, or make it do something someone hasn’t thought of yet, or even just not pay $XXXX per month for something.
Maybe business deserves to be disrupted sometimes.