I apologize, apparently I did a poor job explaining what I had in mind with my “ethical” comment–it seems to be understood differently than I intended, I didn’t want to guilt-trip anyone, sorry it came across that way.
I don’t want you to go out of business either. Your application and services are excellent so I’d love to see Obsidian succeed for the long term and be able to rely on it myself for the long term. That’s why I want to pay you for them!
To consider the examples you offered, I’m not so sure they accomplish the task of showing a proprietary advantage to users or companies.
Office and Google Docs… I’d question that Notion. For something comparable there is collaboraoffice.com (based on LibreOffice) or its online integration with nextcloud.com (and there are commercial services apparently succeeding around these)
Outlook and Google Calendar, there’s Evolution and a variety of other good clients, including web-based ones that are as good/useful, sometimes more elegant too. NextCloud again is an example incorporating web-based calendaring in its suite.
Photoshop, like many old proprietary applications, is truly in a dominant position with a huge privilege in the market that makes it difficult for others, equally including proprietary applications to gain a footing. Gimp nonetheless is a pretty impressive testament to open source rising to the occasion even if it still is not 100% on par. Don’t discount other impressive graphics-oriented applications that are dominant in their space like Blender, which is open source.
Sketch and Figma, I’m not familiar with so can’t address those.
Windows and MacOS… MacOS you may recall only exists because it was built on the basis of copying the open source BSD operating system and incorporates a huge amount of open source software. These companies also have a headstart and practice unfair competitive tricks. Microsoft famously was sued about that. Yet, Microsoft’s trend is increasingly to open source applications and incorporate more open source software into its products.
Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box… I don’t know about all of those but Google is a heavy open source user and contributor. The company is built on Linux servers. Again NextCloud comes to mind where you can pay for a hosted service from a provider or do it yourself (though there are others).
The Obsidian application itself exists due to the open source Electron and open formats like markdown, etc. Even its web-based services rely on open source technologies and standards. There would be no Web without those.
Being a well-supported consumer application is not equivalent to being a closed-source application. Companies can and do provide well-supported consumer applications that are open source–I’m pretty sure your own services make a good case for how that could be possible. Open source does not mean non-commercial.
Fundamentally, if you operate from the perspective of a business framework, you’d want to provide what paying customers seek. As you mentioned, you’re giving the software away for free. So you want to make money by attracting more users to pay for your services. I will absolutely pay once my right to use my computer and applications is safe and respected within my control. That right cannot hurt any user, whether they care about open source or are oblivious to it. Yet you gain, as a business, by serving an increased user population that could pay for your services. Fundamentally, your commercial interests and model would align better with increasing users by open sourcing your application.