Tuesday 17 July 2007

Open source competition

Through Matts entry I read Roy's thoughts on competition between OSS vendors in a marketplace, and it seems to me that the OSS model is beginning to see teenage angst on the horizon.

"I do believe that the first one in a market raises the barrier to
entry, effectively closing the door behind him. Would you want to enter
a market against Alfresco at this point"

I think Roy is right here - the barrier to entry is raised - but the sentiment could also be reworded "who would want to enter a market against Documentum and Sharepoint".  But Alfresco did just that.  Yes, it's true that the first to dominate the 'commoditized' part of any market can take advantage of low-hanging fruit that those following have to work a little harder to find, but then, hats off to those folks who had the courage to step up to the mark early.
But being an OSS vendor is not exclusive to being 'incumbent'.  Once a vendor of any disposition reaches a certain point in growth they are susceptible to disruption.  Few OSS vendors have reached that stage - RHT may be one (are they not being disrupted by the likes of Ubuntu?). JBoss may be another (Spring?). 
Being 'incumbent' comes with an increase in the difficulty in responding to new challenges quickly and effectively.  Being OSS doesn't help with the reality that a big lump of software based on  code from 5 years ago is harder to innovate with than one written with new challenges in mind, and based on contemporary technologies.
Yes, Alfresco, Zimbra, and the others noted amongst many others, have the stage at the moment.  But as in punctuated equilibrium, the biggest 'aint always the fittest.

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Tuesday 3 July 2007

Last note on Ubuntu. Honest

Ubuntu doesn't support proprietary formats out of the box. That's why DVDs can't be played without adding stuff from the repositories. Mark Shuttleworth has good reasons why Canonical takes this position.
But hang on. Out of the tin, Ubuntu includes OpenOffice, which supports MS Office formats - proprietary no?

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