The big question I'd like to ask you is what kind of market you envision for your shrink-wrapped product.
You have a couple of options:
- Retail: needs a flashy GUI more than anything; not Perl's strongest point. Other than that, for retail it doesn't matter what language you write it in. Just realise that it's very, very hard to get on the shelves. And even harder to get a decent margin. Expect big up-front costs, and lots of risk, and a big advertisement budget. Republishing is an alternative strategy in this market, but expect to be sucked dry. If you make it in, and have something popular, you can make a decent living by counting on the volume of the market. You'll likely need to go global.
- Small business: also a big market in terms of volume. Won't pay unless it's dead simple to install and maintain, or it's customised to their specific needs, or it's a commodity (like Windows or Office).
- Enterprise: lots of cash, lots of requirements. I don't think this is a market where you can sell anything off-the-shelf.
In my experience, the consumer market isn't worth the pain. Support alone could kill you. I haven't directly done anything with big enterprises, but I suspect it's not feasible to get a foot in the door without expensive consultants and an impressive portfolio of buzzwords.
In the end, I think the small business segment is the most exciting: there are plenty opportunities for small shops selling intranets, web sites and so on. You'll be customizing your base product for each client, which technically makes you a consultant, but there's no reason why you shouldn't base this on a common framework that you develop for your particular niche. It gives you at least three income streams:
- you sell your application framework
- you bill your customizations by the hour
- you sell a support contract
This is a path that you could grow into a big shop, of course, but then your sales force will become the dominant part of the company.
I don't think there's anything wrong with developing web sites. You can deploy those skills with equal ease into selling intranets, and I think those are just software like any other, but with a lot of management benefits over desktop applications. If you view the web browser as your GUI toolkit, perl comes out very, very strong.
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