Open source projects are the Holy Grail of free software. Despite giving them away, companies, organizations and individuals reap massive profits from them yearly. Even if the projects aren't your original work, you can still profit from them. Though you may not be able to do it in the conventional sense, a little creativity will take you a long way.
When you think of media center software, commercial software like Windows Media Center is probably the first thing that comes to mind. However, open source media centers, like XBMC, are gaining popularity. XMBC, which stands for XBox Media Center, is in a largely untapped market. Unlike it's commercial brothers, XBMC runs on most major operating systems and it's completely free. There are only a few players in this field, leaving it wide open for you to take a leading role in the niche.
In order to get an idea for what you can do with XBMC, first take a look at WordPress. It's both free and open source, but many people still profit from it. While you cannot sell WordPress, there are no restrictions on creating content for it. Have you ever heard of "Premium Themes?" Premium WordPress Themes are high quality, specialized themes created for private clients or online sale. These themes are paid for and sold as either the design, as a downloadable theme or as pre-packaged complete WordPress installations. Even if you have no programming skills, you can create the design and out source the programming. You can even outsource both the design and the programming.
There are also plenty of plugins for WordPress, most of which are free, which extend functionality. Some require you to donation a certain amount or enter your name and e-mail address before you can download the full version. These methods are not only harmless to the user, they provide an opportunity for profits. Donations are of course, free money, and by gathering e-mail addresses you will create an e-mail list for product or affiliate marketing.
Smart companies, like Boxee, took all these ideas and took them to the next level. They created a well known brand with its own look, feel and logo. They now sell branded items and even a physical product called the Boxee Box. You can sell branded items, such as mugs, hats, and ebooks over the internet without much effort. You might not be able to create a physical product like Boxee, but you can create a media center PC with XBMC as the front end.
Here is a quick review of what you can and cannot do with XBMC.
- You can create content plugins
- You can create premium themes
- You can extend or enhance functionality to create a brand
- You can sell pre-packaged hardware with XBMC as the running software
- You can build a media center PC with XBMC as the front-end
- You cannot sell the XBMC application and code directly
- You cannot claim XBMC as your own and sell it
- You cannot make a few changes to the code and re-license the XBMC code. The code will always stay under the GPL (General Public License)