Do Open Source Developers Respond to Competition? The (La)TeX Case Study
Review of Network Economics, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 239-263, June 2007
25 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2007
This paper traces the history of TeX, the open source typesetting program. TeX was an early and very successful open source project that imposed its standards in a particularly competitive environment and inspired many advances in the typesetting industry. Developed over three decades, TeX came into competition with a variety of open source and proprietary alternatives. I argue from this case study that open source developers derive direct and indirect network externalities from the use of their software by others and must therefore consider non-developers' needs to make their software more attractive to a broader audience and more competitive with proprietary alternatives.
Keywords: Open Source Software, Network Effects, Platform Competition, Product Differentiation, Information Goods, Intellectual Property, Production Systems, Competition, Non-Profit, Volunteer Organizations
JEL Classification: D23, H41, L13, L22, L31, L86, O34, O38
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