The technology landscape shifted again yesterday, with another announcement between Sun and IBM – IBM has joined the OpenOffice.org community. Bluntly put, with only one (rather unlikely) exception, there is no more credible enterprise partner for OpenOffice.org than IBM. This is a big accomplishment for both teams – congratulations, folks.
At the risk of repetition… why are we (both) interested? Do we really believe the growing OpenOffice population will have an impact on the world’s datacenters (where both of us make our living)? Obviously, yes.
The technology choices consumers make are already having a profound impact on how business runs. As an example, with 70% of the US economy driven by consumer spending (among the highest in the world) – when consumers spend, they are increasingly spending via the network. Using the devices, software and services they’ve chosen. Do I expect them to buy a datacenter through OpenOffice? No.
The choices consumers make, given their numbers on the web (here and around the world – in population centers, of course) are driving standards, from time-based video to applications and document standards. The technology industry is no longer the sole driving force – consumers are increasingly in charge. In the developed and developing world.
So our theory is simple. Free software, like free search or video, appeals to the broadest segment of the world’s population – free is a universally attractive price tag (and a critically important intellectual property philosophy). One need only look to the recent successes behind the global rise of the ISO Standardized Open Document Format – appealing because of its price tag ($0), its complete freedom from tricky royalty, patent or technology obligations, and the ubiquity of products that support it (like OpenOffice, Google Apps, and others).
So what’s driving OpenOffice adoption? Sun’s endorsement? IBM’s involvement? Google’s support? Ubuntu’s popularity? Its global community is enormously important, for sure.
But let me put it this way. I was with the CEO of a very popular internet software company recently, who said she felt it necessary to get her company’s core product download to under 5 megabytes. I asked why- at more than ten times that size, OpenOffice downloads seemed in no danger of slowing globally, even to places with poor network infrastructure. Her response?
“My download doesn’t save a customer $400.” There you have it.
So get OpenOffice here, and tell your friends – if they’d like Microsoft Office compatible office productivity software, at home or at work or at school, they can get it.
In all the right senses of that word.