A blog for the enterprise open source community
Europe is not a single market for open sourceMatthew Aslett, November 3, 2008 @ 8:32 am ET
There has been a lot of talk recently about the difference in attitudes towards open source projects and open source vendors in the US compared to Europe.
As previously mentioned the debate was triggered by write-ups of conversations at the Open Source Think Tank from Mark Radcliffe and Larry Augustin. Tarus Balog, Fabrizio Capobianco, Gianugo Rabellino, Christopher Keene, and Matt Asay all joined in for good measure.
With all due respect to the others, Augustin’s post is probably definitive, including as it does an overview and discussion of the different attitudes to adoption drivers, business creation, licensing, business models, sales models and expectations.
“I believe the attitude differences I observed at this OSTT reflect a more sophisticated view of Open Source than we have today in the US. In the US the Open Source nature of the software is almost irrelevant to a company’s buying decision. The US buyers want better, cheaper software and a better relationship with vendors; all of which Open Source helps create for them. But they are not so interested in the source code itself nor in how access to the code created those benefits.
I believe the European Open Source software community has moved beyond that. The European community sees those benefits, but in addition recognizes that the Open Source nature of the code is the driving factor behind those benefits. As a result they have embraced Open Source to a degree the US market has not; insisting in many cases on acquiring the software under an open source license, not an alternative commercial license.”
This does a great job of summarizing attitudes to open source in Europe compared to the US, but like any summary also oversimplifies matters to some extent. I was reminded of this late last week when chatting to Brian Gentile, CEO of JasperSoft, about his company’s experience in Europe.
The overall impression is the same: more commercial-led engagements in the US, more community-led engagements in Europe, and a disproportionate number of leads in Europe overall. As Brian pointed out, however, there is another layer of complexity.
In JasperSoft’s experience, activities in Northern Europe and the UK are more likely to be led by commercial adoption, while activities in Southern Europe including France are more likely to be community-led. Germany is somewhere in the middle.
For JasperSoft the UK and Northern Europe tend to be direct sales engagements, while in France and Germany the company is concentrating on partnerships with local systems integrators, resellers and consultants.
Of course those statements in themselves are oversimplifications. As we noted during our summer tour of Europe, there are distinct differences not only between European countries but also within the regions of some European countries.
As Brian noted, “you have to approach each country uniquely”.
Which isn’t to say that the differences observed by Augustin et al are wrong – far from it. But they are only the first piece in a very complicated puzzle.
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