KDE rejects Fairsearch initiative claims: Free Software is competitive

The Fairsearch initiative is a Microsoft-led consortium that aims at activating European policy makers to indirectly achieve a competitive advantage against Google’s dominance as a search engine. Its recent complaint to the European Commission raised serious concerns in the Free Software ecosystem by calling the distribution of Android at below-cost anti-competitive behaviour and predatory pricing. While the methods with which companies compete for the market share of their search offerings are not relevant to software freedom, every Free Software platform is distributed below cost. Creating Free Software is not free, and a price of zero will never cover cost. The issue was quickly picked up by FSFE and other parties, and now the KDE community approached the European Commission about the issue. The response is available here, and also in PDF format. The KDE response was announced on the Dot.

Some reviewers have taken issue with the aspect that by opposing the Fairsearch claim of anti-competitive behaviour, we are endorsing Google’s strategies to promote the use of their services, including search and others. It is important to understand that there are two separate components to Fairsearch’s claims – one where Fairsearch complains about Google’s behaviour, and one where it lobbies against the distribution of a Free Software platform. As a community, only the latter is of relevance to us. We are neither endorsing nor condemning other actions of the parties involved in the debate. We do care about Software Freedom, and that is where Fairsearch crossed the line.

3 responses to “KDE rejects Fairsearch initiative claims: Free Software is competitive

  1. Michael B.

    There’s also a concept in economics called a contestable market. A contestable market is one in which a firms can enter a market easily without sunk costs. The more “contestable” a market is, the more it’ll act like a perfectly competitive market, even if there is a monopoly. FOSS is extremly contestable because of how easy it is to fork software. In other words, from an economic perspective, it doesn’t matter whether or not FOSS is anti-competitive because it is contestable.

    • Thanks, Michael. I am a bit embarrassed that I was not aware of this theory :-) Added to the study list, and will probably add it to the “Open Source and Intellectual Property” seminar at TU Berlin.

  2. “every Free Software platform is distributed below cost”

    From Google’s services over Apple’s software & device package to Red Hat’s solutions & supports. Microsoft’s license-fee business model is just one of many ways to cash they try hard to move away from that.
    The price Google needs to pay is in the licenses they need to follow and its our compensation/sallery. How much billions of $ is the source code of Windows worth this days? And how much billion $ on top by related assets/services/devices/support/etc?

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