In order to stay relevant in the marketplace, I'm researching new business models for my software company. The open source model with paid support seems like a good fit for our product, but I have concerns about whether or not a paid support model is viable in an era where top-notch help is readily available for free on sites like those in the Stack Exchange network.
Case in point -- I moved my employees to Ubuntu last year because I didn't want to pay for Win 7 licenses and new hardware (plus, the mono platform was highly attractive). My staff had no Linux experience, but were able to achieve relative competency in about 120 days with the help of AskUbuntu, Stack Overflow, and a few "For Dummies" books. We did employ an Ubuntu consultant for 7 days to provide training and support, but beyond that spent $0.00 on any kind of paid expertise.
In regards to my due diligence, I ran a 3 month beta of the freemium-paid-support model with one of our smaller customers, and achieved mediocre results. I'd like to think its because our software is so stable and easy to use that the customer didn't need much paid support, but I suspect that they circumvented the terms of our SLA in the same manner that we did with the move to Ubuntu.
Does anyone out there has any thoughts, advice, or experience relevant to the move I'm considering? What worked, what didn't, etc?