Subject: Re: Competition by internal expertise for F/OSS vendors
From: Rich Bodo <richbodo@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 12:19:09 -0700


>  Small-scale
> droplets of open source software in the hands of philologists (or even the
> hands of much more numerous lawyers) don't give us the FOSS growth-rates we
> need and are seeing.
>   
There is a case to be made that those droplets do form a wave, or that a 
massive user-base grows a long-tail of contribution that wags the dog.  
The emerging markets that are shown searching for information on Ubuntu 
via Google are going to create content for the Ubuntu project.  The bulk 
of the contributions will be in the form of questions and suggestions - 
small bits of documentation that kick off the creation of better content 
and encourage others to join the party.  If you believe that 
demographics of growth in world computer and internet usage are going to 
favor FOSS heavily, then the future for FOSS looks very bright indeed.

I agree that we are seeing the type of adoption that many on this list 
had hoped for 10 years ago.  Maybe it's time for a retrospective 
discussion?  Not that folks on this list have ever had any sort of 
unified goal, but we had frequently mentioned milestones of sorts for 
FOSS.   Most of them will never be officially measured, but might be 
interesting to discuss.

Some areas where we are close to achieving significant milestones, and 
my wild-ass-guesses as to the status:

1) Functionality: We are clearly closer to the availability of a drop in 
FOSS replacement for Windows for a majority of users - probably there 
for the majority already. 

2) Overall Business Value: If you are not Microsoft, you would estimate 
that the FOSS established base would already be much more difficult to 
replace than Windows (an argument aided by pricing structures ;) ). 

3) Penetration into the Business Models of Successful Businesses: I 
haven't run into a large business that doesn't contribute to FOSS in a 
long while, and I haven't read an issue of HBR in months that doesn't 
discuss the trade-offs of FOSS.  A business that writes software and 
does not contribute to FOSS will soon be the exception, rather than the 
rule.

4) Conceptual Validation and Virality: I'm not going to touch this one 
right now.

-Rich