Watch out Red Hat, there's someone following you
Sixty-five percent of 220 participants in the survey give Red Hat just two years to operate with practically no competition; they see another company of similar stature emerging within that timeframe.
These figures come from the annual "Future of Open Source" survey, the figures for which were released earlier this week at an Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco. (We could have brought you this bit of news and all that follows much earlier but for the remarkable reluctance of the survey organiser, North Bridge Venture Partners, to provide numbers so that percentages would have some veracity.)
The respondents to the survey include people who attended the OSBC seminar and also customers of the companies which conributed an official to a discussion panel - Ingres, Sun, SugarCRM, Ubuntu and Acquia. North Bridge was also represented on this panel; among the panelists there were at least two who are high-profile members of the FOSS community - Mark Shuttleworth of Canonical and Marten Mickos, formerly the head of MySQL and now wearing a Sun hat.
But back to those figures - another 22 percent of those surveyed think that it will take five years for a company of Red Hat's stature to emerge in the open source arena. The survey dd not provide the latitude for speculation on which company would be this competitor to Red Hat. Neither was there scope for speculation about whether a new company would rise up and make remarkable gains in 24 months. But I'm prepared to bet that the shadow of Canonical, the company that is behind the Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution, was in the minds of this 65 percent when they made that prediction.
There are some other interesting figures in the survey, all of which take in only the US market. One is that the downward trend in financial conditions will be good for open source. Here, fully 81 percent inclined to the view that the downward spiral of the market will favour open source software sellers.
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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.