I wonder what would happen if a) you focused v3 on having features that specifically made it awesome for dentists with HIPPA compliance issues. Or cross-eyed investment bankers. Or someone with deep pockets and an unusual, unmet need and b) shifted the value of open-source from shared development costs to risk-avoidance. Namely: customers have an escape hatch if you cease development because they can update the source, export data into novel data formats, etc.
If I'm a WordPress guy who needs to get multi-site going, then I'm going to figure it out. I'm not jumping ship because someone else might do it 10% better.
But if I'm a dentist with HIPPA compliance issues (good example), I don't care about underlying technology. I just want the closest solution with someone who's been there before.
Trying to sell an already-technical user on $20/month hosting is a bit of a joke when there's DigitalOcean or a dozen others after a quarter of the cost... Or less.
Web hosting isn't really even "SAAS" anymore. It's a commodity service.
Still, I believe Locomotive already serves a niche: It is one of the few available ruby on rails cm systems. And it it possible to integrate Locomotive with an existing rails app. That is why I guess their main audience is rails developers who need some content management functionality in their apps. And those do not need hosting.
This is consistent with what they describe in the post: Many people using the open source software, many consulting gigs with developers but only a few hosting customers.
I wonder if a better business model in this case would be some kind of productized service. If access to Didier is a scarce but sought after resource, they might want to try selling support contracts that guarantee a certain amount of Didier's time.
But you have to wonder, how do you monetize a community of coders who are already very competent (compared to the PHP ecosphere)?
I think an "App store" of sorts could be the way to go. Just take % cuts off of other's work, and foster it as it all grows organically. Imagine if WordPress had done that themselves... instead of Envato and the like killin it in what could rightfully have been WP's own backyard.
That's a great point, and another illustration that a business model that works for one product might not work for another, even if they appear similar on the surface.
We're trying to talk to Rails developers because they are the most likely to see the technical possibilities of the product and to other developers because they are more likely to use our hosting solution.
And we also insist on the free and open source side of the business while trying to monetize the project.
I think if they had a very unique value proposition in order to avoid competition, they'd be in good shape. Maybe a CMS just for a specific industry.