In a panel discussion at the IDC European Forum, MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte said that he expects the most important impact of the open source model on software will not be to make it free, but to produce superior software innovation. “Open source simply says that one or two billion people have to be, collectively, smarter and more creative than any one corporation. That’s all it says. If you don’t believe that, then [you can believe that ] open source is not going to work.”
But to prove the point that open source is already changing the IT market in a big way, he claimed that Linux has reached near 50% market share in the server market – a huge (repeat, HUGE) overstatement of Linux share. For the record, according to IDC’s Worldwide Server Tracker, in Q205, servers shipping with Linux accounted for 21% of volume servers (Linux’s sweet spot). In contrast, Windows servers made up 66%. While Linux is on a very fast ramp, it clearly has a long way to go to eclipse the other OSes’ share – particularly that of Windows.
While Negroponte got the market data wrong, I do think he’s on the right track on the real impact of open source on software innovation. In fact, an IDC research study earlier this year showed that quite a few IT executives share that view (look for forthcoming posting in IDC eXchange later this week).
Later on, Negroponte admitted with a grin: “I often tell people: ‘I’m always right, I just get the timing wrong!’” . I’d say that’s a fair point.
Check out Al Gillen's comment (click "COMMENTS" below).]