Larry Augustin recently wrote about the differences between how Europe and the US view the open source software market. His comments came after attending the Olliance Think Tank conference in Paris this week (tough assignment, that).
He identified a number of differences between how Europe and the US view open source. For example, he gives the primary European reason for adoption open source as wanting to avoid vendor lock-in, while the primary reason for adopting open source in the US is cost.
While recognizing the differences, I think that the open source business model is tending to converge on the dual-license approach that I outlined in the Silverado Rules for Open Source Software. So what accounts for these regional differences?
I believe the biggest single factor to explain these differences is the underlying attitude towards Microsoft. In the US, where Microsoft is seen as a successful, if aggressive, competitor, adoption open source is a business decision, that is to say based on cost and ROI.
In Europe, where Microsoft is seen as a malignant force, adoption of open source is seen as a political decision, that is to say based on and ideology that trumps business considerations. Viewed this way, the differences described by Larry between the two geographies are very consistent, particularly if you just insert the word Microsoft at strategic points.
For example, on the first observation, the primary reason for adopting open source in Europe is to avoid [Microsoft] lock-in; while the primary reason in the US is cost, as Microsoft lock-in per se is not seen as a bad thing.
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