I am not an open source enthusiast. That is not to say that I am not enthusiastic about open source, bacause I am, but I am not an enthusiast in the same way that I am not a car enthusiast. I do not spend my spare time tinkering with the hood up adjusting petrol mix for optimum performance, nor do I subscribe to glossy magazines informing me which form of alloy trim is in vogue. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against those who do, it's just that I don't.
I have been an IT professional for over 25 years. I have been in my time developer, sysadmin (many OS's), db admin, hardware support, cable puller and all the rest. I have no issues with doing any of that stuff, it's just that it's not what I do now. When I'm doing what I do now, I'd like computers to just work. And for that matter, when I'm not working, and I want to play some music, I don't want to have to google the latest encoding schemes and determine which codec I need to update. I want it to just work. Therein lies a hurdle which Open Source has negotiated poorly to date - one of product management and marketing. And the reason that that hurdle remains is largely in the makeup of the FOSS community.
Open source communities are made up of enthusiasts as a rule (yes, there are exceptions to the rule but not many) and it is inevitably (and to some extent, rightly) that community which determines what happens to a product - which features, bugs and developments are prioritised. Enthusiasts in the community, though, not only don't mind tinkering under the hood, but often prefer a product which requires tinkering. The result is a package which looks great from a developer's and enthusiast's point of view, but not necessarily from an end user's.
Why does it matter? It doesn't as long as FOSS remains bounded by its communities. But there are increasingly commercial enterprises working on a variety of business models. Ubuntu is a good example. Cononical clearly would like Ubuntu to be considered the desktop Linux of choice and would like to break clear of the community boundaries. In my opinion, though, the packages that comprise Ubuntu (and other distributions) are not yet adequately focussed on what that target audience needs to make the switch from Windows.
Of course, many aspects of Linux based desktops (including Ubuntu) knock the socks off Vista. But many are little better that Windows 95, and for that target audience it isn't enough that a package will just about do the job, eventually.
It isn't for nothing that organisations like Microsoft spend millions on market research, focus groups, usability testing and the like. Early on in my entrepreneurial career I was told a truism which I have held central ever since, that the best way to ensure you sell what you make is to ensure you make what you can sell. If FOSS wants to break into the non-enthusiast market, then this must be addressed. Even the otherwise excellent book 'Producing Open Source Software' by Karl Fogel (available here) barely mentions the marketing function.
But how could marketing functions be included in the OSS process? Should the marketing itself be considered to be as open as the source? There may be a platform for opening up the information in a Creative Commons license, but the framework under which the information is derived is unclear (to me anyway). I think it likely that that framework will be different to traditional commercial products.