Business value of goodwill

Is the revenue generated for Canonical by Banshee worth the goodwill costs associated with it? Based on reading about Banshee in openSUSE, I’m guessing no.

This isn’t even a case of good business decisions being put ahead of community interest. It’s not very good business at all.

P.S. My guess is there will eventually be a PPA that has this change reverted and people will respond to “If you’d rather the money be donated to Gnome, install Banshee from my PPA”.

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17 Responses to “Business value of goodwill”


  1. 1 Martin Owens March 13, 2011 at 00:54

    I’d rather it was made easy to change the affiliate code per user, so we could just add our own code. After all if I install Ubuntu for someone, I’m the affiliate and I should get all the money.

  2. 2 Roger March 13, 2011 at 01:21

    What Canonical should have done is what the Humble Bundle guys do. Have a preference pane somewhere in Ubuntu (for the system not for an app) saying that your usage of the system can result in revenues such as search engine kickbacks, affiliate fees when purchasing etc. It should then let you divide that up into proportions for Canonical, FSF, Gnome etc.

    Canonical will be able to choose the default settings (eg they get 75%), but any user will have the ability to change that. That is what communities do, and it will reflect the will of the users.

  3. 3 Tachyon Feathertail March 13, 2011 at 02:27

    I was wondering when someone would point this out!

    People keep saying “Oh, they’re an amoral corporation, of course they’re going to screw people over,” as though it were natural and right. Somebody needs to drive it into their heads that even if you don’t give a care about others, screwing people over has consequences.

  4. 4 jg March 13, 2011 at 03:25

    Maybe it’s because a lot of people haven’t done any charity work, or maybe it’s just the fallout from too much “dog eat dog, and greed is good” capitalism, but frankly, I’m astounded at how many folks have such an opportunistic attitude toward non-profit organizations. Are people getting so greedy now that they actually feel the need to skim donations from non-profits? I know the GPL doesn’t technically forbid someone from making money off of open source, but things are really getting out of hand with some of the dubiously justified “value-added” schemes that go so far as to skim from non-profits. This guy wants a cut of GNOME’s donations because he took the Debian package of Banshee and “tweaked it” for Ubuntu. And this guy wants a cut because he copied it to that “free” CD Canonical gives out. And this guy wants a cut because he put the label on the CD. And this guy wants a cut because he installed it on someone’s computer. And they each want a 75% cut because don’t you know that without Ubuntu, FOSS would be nothing, so that alone justifies a 75% take for each (in addition to Canonical’s 75% take just because… well, they’re Canonical… the only folks who do lots of work that matters).

    Canonical did not do 75% of the work on Banshee, and they do not deserve 75% of its amazon affiliate code money. Frankly, if all the people who worked on what comprises Ubuntu were to tell Canonical “We want our fair share of whatever money you take in”, hell, just Debian alone could ask for 75 cents of every UbuntuOne dollar… and it would _still_ be much more fair than Ubuntu’s Banshee “deal”.

    Look, some of us have gotten wise to Canonical/Ubuntu. We know Shuttleworth has delusions that Ubuntu is somehow going to be the next “MacOS”, and he’s got dollar signs in his eyes. We know that Canonical isn’t at all about community or FOSS or non-corporate endeavors, and Canonical will never be anything more than Shuttleworth trying to make back his initial investment. We don’t expect more than that. But this habit Ubuntu folks have, of taking more credit for FOSS than they deserve, has gotten too out of hand now that they’ve on to thinking they should also be making more money than they deserve… especially when it comes via skimming from non-profit FOSS entities.

  5. 5 nnonix March 13, 2011 at 05:51

    Here’s the thing. The overwhelming majority of users do-not-care-one-little-bit. The opposition is loud (and repetitive), not large.

    Only time will tell if the net result of Canonical’s decision is positive or negative. 25% of something is more than 100% of nothing. On a large enough scale, 25% could be very significant.

    • 6 skitterman March 13, 2011 at 08:26

      Where do you get ‘nothing’? Banshee was already in the archive and quite popular. Usage will no doubt increase due to it being default, but it wasn’t nothing before and wouldn’t have been in the future.

      In any case, I think you miss my point. This decision is bad for Ubuntu and bad for Canonical, regardless of it’s affect on Banshee. The value proposition here isn’t about dollars and cents.

      • 7 nnonix March 13, 2011 at 14:47

        I realize your point but I was replying to what you wrote. Dollars and cents are always a factor in any “Business” decision and you said it was bad business. Bad PR? Maybe. Bad for business …. only time will tell.

      • 8 skitterman March 13, 2011 at 17:12

        When businesses are valued, goodwill has cash value. Given the amount of revenue this has the potential to bring in, I think it’s very highly unlikely the revenue would offset the lost value of goodwill. That’s bad for business.

  6. 9 Iain Lane March 13, 2011 at 06:31

    The official Banshee team’s PPA already exists and will continue to provide an uncompromised experience.

    https://launchpad.net/~banshee-team/+archive/ppa

    https://launchpad.net/~banshee-team/+archive/banshee-unstable

  7. 10 John Doll March 13, 2011 at 09:58

    I am “just a user” and I do care. I don’t contribute to the ubuntu community directly. But I have contributed to the community I live in relative to using ubuntu in non-profit areas. I’d like to contribute more as my children get older and I have less family demands. From small amount of googling I’ve done to date it seems like it would be more time consuming to figure how to contribute than to actually contribute. The whole Banshee episode kind of cuts across the grain of why I first experimented with a linux distribution. Personally I’d rather have a less polished distribution than have corporate like decisions made in what I initially perceived to be a more open community. Notice I said less polished, not broken or buggy. Maybe this is my way of talking myself into trying other distro’s in the future. Do all distro’s have a Ubuntu/Canonical Fedora/Red Hat relationship? If so maybe I should quit trying to swim upstream in my own family and re-embrace Windows.

    • 11 skitterman March 13, 2011 at 10:14

      Of the major Linux distributions, Debian (from which Ubuntu is derived) is the major exception. They are entirely community run and while corporations certainly donate to and support Debian, none is predominant and they have no formal voice in the project. It’s almost certainly what you’re looking for.

  8. 14 Bo March 13, 2011 at 16:44

    What Iain Lane said, Banshee can be uninstalled and re-installed from the Banshee site using the “Banshee Team PPA” at

  9. 15 Vadim Peretokin March 13, 2011 at 18:57

    I’m content using Rhythmbox and buying music from the Ubuntu Music store, surprisingly enough.

    • 16 skitterman March 13, 2011 at 19:22

      I think Canonical would have been smarter to ignore the Amazon store and concentrate on making the best U1 experience possible. No one would have objected to straight up competition

  10. 17 jimcooncat March 13, 2011 at 19:03

    For once I read The Fine Article. The comments so far (16 at my reading) are rather insightful.


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