I read something the other day that discussed whether or not SaaS and OpenSource were in competition. That got me thinking down a tangent and what I want to talk about now is communities.
First a disclaimer – there will be some wild generalisations here but bear with me.
OpenSource tends to build passionate users that consider themselves, to a certain extent “owners” and “developers” of the product in question. These communities tend to be rabidly loyal and have a tendency towards evangelisation.
SaaS on the other hand tends to build networks or communities of individuals that share a commonality – be it use, interest whatever. SaaS users tend to be loyal to a point, but not nearly as loyal as OpenSource-ers.
To a certain extent SaaS enterprises have attempted to create the OpeSource level of community by embracing the concepts of beta-testing and user feedback and development. This however has been reasonably limited (mainly due to the fact that OpenSource is free, at some point a free beta-test of a SaaS product will generally swing over to a subscription based service).
Imagine if you will a situation where a revenue generating SaaS product builds a community of such committed users that they become the salesforce, an integral part of the development team and the PR gang.