Subject: Data on open source business impact
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 19:40:27 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Tim" == Tim O'Reilly <tim@oreilly.com> writes:

    Tim> But that being said, I have to agree with Craig.  His
    Tim> comments reminded me of those of Clayton Christiansen, the
    Tim> Harvard business school guru whose recent book The
    Tim> Innovator's Dilemma seems to be in more Amazon purchase
    Tim> circles than any other business book.

Thanks for the xref.

    Tim> Christiansen points out that what he calls disruptive
    Tim> technologies often unseat existing players precisely because
    Tim> there isn't enough data for them to base their business
    Tim> forecasts on, so they sit on the sidelines waiting for the
    Tim> market to get big enough to notice.  Meanwhile, small
    Tim> companies (and in the case of open source/free software,
    Tim> individuals and coalitions) tackle these new markets, get
    Tim> first mover advantage, and eventually grow large.

One quibble - it's not "eventually" grow large (except maybe in
internet years); it's the explosive growth, the kind that day traders
get all excited about.

Yeah, 3M is famous in business school circles for basing its long term
business strategy on that idea.  Look for disruptive technologies,
develop them fast and well, market the hell out of them, and if by now
you aren't seeing a 50% ROI dump it hard.  After four years, dump it
anyway; it's probably got industrial atherosclerosis by then.

But it just seems unlikely that anyone can be good at that for very
long on a large scale.  And even more unlikely that the medium to very 
smart developer can pull it off with certainty.  The little guys get
decimated: only the survivors get rich.

"Think of it as evolution in action."

One thing that's _really_ different about free software businesses
(maybe) is that there's a better chance that you can survive with
steady, not necessarily explosive, growth.  One aspect is the GPL
"just add entreprenuer" competition formula which is deterring to any
other minnow that wants to try for explosive growth on high operating
surpluses in "your" market.  Another is the service-orientation.


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