Technology history is one of software platforms and control over those platforms. Generally, the more companies allowed to participate in a platform the more growth that platform can generate, because no one company can possess all the good ideas.
The author takes readers back to the heyday of International Business Machines (IBM) and Microsoft (MSFT). Both dominated during their era, thanks to outshining the competition. open source follows the same path because it creates competition for any rivals that build a dominant platform. Perhaps, Linux beat Windows but Linux did not create dominance in the field because it was readily available to everyone. Market dominance means big profits but even with open source true dominance comes when a platform stands alone and is the only choice. Apple is the hands down device market leader for the last decade. Along comes the open source alternative Android, which was slated to be a big money maker. However, the truth is that the competition from Apple did not steam from open source it actually arose from the creation of a new platform.
What is the lesson? Open source, by itself, is no guarantee of market competition. We want market competition — the more of it we can get, the more investments we can create, the more growth we get. But something beyond mere ‘open source’ must exist to assure that competition continues.
Interesting analysis. However, LucidWorks and other leaders show that though open source might not be dominating the market competition it is definitely headed in the right direction.
April Holmes, October 2, 2012