Now I have entered true geekdom. Being a great fan of Firefox, I went to the mozilla.org online store and bought a t-shirt with the communistic star in front in support of this organization and its efforts. I will wear it proudly and scoff at the laughs I may get.
Open source is really gaining momentum. It is also the source of great change and upheavals in business in my view.
Consider what Firefox is doing now to Internet Explorer. Already Firefox has gained huge amounts of marketshare from Internet Explorer and didn't need the distribution mechanism of Windows to do it. It is simply a superior product.
Thunderbird is another great product from mozilla.org. Fast and great spam protection, it offers a great free alternative to any full featured mail client. The only thing that stops me from using it is sync-ing software with my Treo.
But the key thing here is QUALITY PRODUCT FOR FREE. Think about it. What you formerly PAID FOR IS NOW FREE. Think about the businesses that grew up around getting paid for the software they produced. For years they would charge for this software and people had no choice but to pay. With the open source movement, it is just a matter of time before literally every piece of software you have is now available for free.
Another example: We all used to go to the DoubleClicks of the world to get our ad serving done. Millions of dollars would go to DoubleClick for ad serving - likewise, millions of dollars were invested in building internal ad servers at Yahoo! and MSN. But now check out phpAdsNew: Open Source Ad Server. Someone wrote an entire ad server available for free!
Let's talk more about the FREE concept. At a recent brunch with some colleagues, I was asked about what I thought about Google and their prospects. I answered that my biggest fear was that they would try to offer what was formerly charged for, for FREE. This would include every premium service that any web company charged for, like extra hard drive space for email already attacked by gmail.com.
Now what does this mean.
Companies could find themselves in the midst of unexpected attack on their chief revenue sources without proper contingency planning. They will find customers slowly or quickly melting away because they can get the same QUALITY PRODUCT FOR FREE at Google. I guarantee you that almost no company is planning for this (if you are, then I salute you) and think the probability that every company will be caught with their pants down is about 100%.
And then, it will take months if not years for companies to realign their planning and strategy to deal with this threat, if they survive at all.
Great for the consumer, not so great for companies.
It will be interesting to see if my prediction comes true.