Is Open Source vulnerable to this like Microsoft?

Some people might just cheer at Microsoft’s troubles, but I’m more curious as to whether or not the open source environment is immune to this? Do we need to take note of this lesson lest we repeat it?

Microsoft and the Innovator’s Paradox](
So the real problem isn’t what Microsoft is doing today. It’s what Microsoft did, or didn’t do, five, or even 10 years ago. At the time, its base business was a bastion of strength. Today’s threats were in their infancies. It would have been the perfect time to plant seeds that today would be blooming profit generators.

Why didn’t it? It’s The Innovator’s Paradox: When you don’t need the growth, you act in ways that lead to you not getting the growth you will need. And when you do need the growth, you can’t act in ways that deliver it.

Got that?

With open source there are lots of people taking it in different directions. Some experiments succeed, some don’t, but the diversity keeps the ideas flowing. Big corporations however tend to get locked into particular ways of doing business and can miss the next big thing. Perhaps one day even the giants of today will be edged out by some young entrant.

I’m hesitant on saying “this can never happen to open source”, Open Source companies are likely just as vulnerable as their proprietary counterparts.

But can an open source project get so big that they become vulnerable to this? Mozilla? Gnome? Linux? MySQL? Java?

Right now they are seen as the underdogs fighting for the bone but what if they succeed? What if Microsoft falls and Linux because the new 800 lb gorilla? Is there anything inherent in open source that will protect these projects from a similar fate?

Open source is more than just one company. If one fails, others take their place. Same with software. Firefox became the light alternative to Netscape, which faded away. Now some people are saying that Firefox is too bloated and are turning to alternatives.

Even if Linux failed, which is highly unlikely since it is so versatile and customisable, there would be a host of alternatives.

Openness is a philosophy, a way of working that’s more effective. Not just for software but for other collaborative tasks. As such it will never go away.

Ultimately, the greatest condition to keep this from happening is competition. The “hacker mentality” is, like any other mentality, fickle.

I don’t think that “unability to inovate” is/will be some kind of a problem for ‘hakcy’ projects. Simply puted - very often people do some ‘hacky’ stuff when they have idea which can not find in the existing software available, this by definition is quite a bit ‘search for inovation’. And of course some people just can not live without hacks :slight_smile:
For a public company on the market things could be a little different. Very often shareholders will prefer more conservative approaches. Same for managers, developers…you can even have some new feautures reported as bugs when they are not expected :slight_smile: In that aspect competition helps mostly when new players come in the game.

P.S. For some reason Microsoft, from it’s beginnig, is compony that more likly follow and reimplement(or buy) others ideas then pushing new technologies upstream, but given that this is quite a profit aproach for them, looks not surprising for someone to follow this business model.

No because Microsoft has innovated very little; it has relied on incorporating other people’s innovations into its product line and selling them very well. The original MS-DOS was heavily based on CP/M2.2; Windows developed out of a hack which was donated to Microsoft; most of the programs Microsoft has marketed were bought in from others.

So there is no comparison between open source and Microsoft. The real problem for open source is that it attracts developers who want to develop, not maintain, things. If they find another forum in which it is more satisfying to develop things, they will leave open source; if open source programs begin to focus on maintenance rather than development, they will leave open source.

Neither of those things are likely to happen in the near future but they might in the longer term future.

What about the argument that open source just copies what proprietary applications create? One buys, the other copies, are they really different, or different means to do the same thing (build upon ideas)?

Well some people are always going to be taken in by that myth but I moved to Linux 10 years ago because I couldn’t find what I needed among the proprietary offerings; one of the first I encountered was the LyX/LaTeX combination and there is nothing in the proprietary world that handles multiple language documents as well as OpenOffice.

Also I have just been surveying small accounting packages and there is nothing in the proprietary world that comes near to offering the simplicity and sophistication of KMyMoney.

An argument without substance IMHO. I have created many apps to fill a void and for which none existed before. No copying, no buying, no proprietary stuff, just pure innovation from an idea to address something that didn’t have anything available for it elsewhere. I am not saying that people won’t borrow or use from the existing, this happens in abundance everywhere. If we refine things right down to brass tacks! there has been no development since the computer was first invented then.

Take the first processor chip. It was an unique never before created innovation. It had a planned set of operating instructions which also had never existed before. Turn the clock ahead to today. In theory then, one could say that everything done today is a derivative of that first chip and instruction set and therefore no innovation has ever occured since then.

Microsoft is picked on most simply because they are a big broad target that does do more borrowing of established idea’s than taking the time to innovate new unique idea’s. Open Source is more of a melting pot of idea’s coming in from all angles some take root quickly and are developed actively from both existing inroads and innovations that never existed before. Others fade out of site till some enterprising person finds a way to move it forward.