People want to make money, which is why a lot of folks fail to understand how Free Software can be good for business. Richard M. Stallman works hard to explain why is it perfectly reasonable to make money out of Free Software, but still, a lot of people fail to grasp this idea.
Companies such as Red Hat, Sun and Zend invest a lot of money and effort into software which freely redistributable – both in the sense of Freedom and price. They make money from selling services with their brand (in the case of Sun it’s also hardware). So, for example, you can use CentOS, a product which is virtually identical to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but with a different logo and a slightly different automatic updates mechanism and you don’t have to pay Red Hat a dime, and Red Hat doesn’t mind, because there are enough customers who willingly pay Red Hat for licenses and service contracts.
And it is perfectly fair. You know why?
Because of the “willingly” part. People can get the same product for nothing, but they buy a (pretty expensive) license anyway. It’s probably a matter of brand recognition, and that probably happens because in this business model marketing people need to work really hard. And they are probably great marketing people, too – it’s as close as it gets to “selling ice to Eskimos”.
Isn’t it great?