Jacob Kaplan-Moss

Is there a market for paid Django apps?

I wrote this post in 2011, more than 12 years ago. It may be very out of date, partially or totally incorrect. I may even no longer agree with this, or might approach things differently if I wrote this post today. I rarely edit posts after writing them, but if I have there'll be a note at the bottom about what I changed and why. If something in this post is actively harmful or dangerous please get in touch and I'll fix it.

Here’s a thought that’s been rummaging around in my brain for some time now: is there a market for commercial, closed-source Django apps?

Suppose someone released a high-quality, well-documented, well-supported Django app… under a commercial license. Assume of course that this app does something you actually need, and that the commercial license isn’t odious. Would you pay for a Django app?

I think I would. I have no qualms about paying for good software: in the last month I bought some backup software (Arq), started using a commercial ticket tracker (Pivotal) and time tracker (Freckle). In all cases, free/libre alternatives existed, but the paid versions were easier, slicker, faster, or in some sense “better.” Enough so that they justified their prices (to me). I think if Haystack (to pick an arbitrary example) was commercial (and reasonably priced) I’d pay for it — the time required to build an alternative would almost certainly cost me more.

On the other hand, there’s also a definite anti-capitalist vein in the open source community. It waxes and wanes, and different sub-communities exhibit the trend more than others, but there’s always a certain resistance to paying for software. Most of us understand that “libre”" is more important than “gratis,” but there’s still a certain amount of attachment to “gratis.”

Beyond that, the Django community so far hasn’t seen any paid apps (other than Ellington, which sorta doesn’t count) so there’d be a certain resistance, I think, to the idea of paying for a plugin.

But on the… third hand (shut up), other open source communities have successfully integrated paid plugins — think Wordpress themes, or Drupal modules.

So — what do you think? Is there a market for paid Django apps?