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Linux.com: Worth 1000 words; defining "services"

Dec 11, 2000, 18:50 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Andrea Glorioso)

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"It's often been said that these days we are living in are the epitome of "the virtual": everything is digital, intangible; in a word, "virtualized". The rise of the so-called "Linux Service Companies" are maybe one of the best examples of this trend: business companies which do not provide neither tangible goods, such as cars, nor less tangible but nevertheless "branded" goods, such as software. Instead, what they sell are services, and this article tries to give a brief overview of what the heck that means, and if this could be the answer to the everlasting question "How can you make money with software you can get for free?"

"Freedom of speech would allow me to talk about Linux Service Companies (LSC from now onwards, to follow our glorious tradition of geekdom and acronymitis) even if I didn't know anything about them. The fact is, I actually worked for one of them: Linuxcare Italia S.p.a., the Italian subsidiary of Linuxcare, Inc. Linuxcare Italia was closed together with all European operations something like a month ago- and I'm writing this to clarify my position- but the time I spent with them has taught me something about what an LSC actually is and does."

"A "service" is just what the name itself says. From Webster's dictionary, a service is "a useful labor that does not produce a tangible commodity". So, an LSC can be thought as a business that, instead of pushing "products" on the market, listens to customers' needs and reacts accordingly, "producing a useful labor" which satisfies the counterpart's requests. We'll see that the distinction between "products" and "services" is sometimes quite blurred, especially from a marketing point of view; but it is nonetheless a useful difference to start with."

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